Bill Capo / Eyewitness News
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GRETNA, La. -- Planners for this year's Benefit Holiday Food Drive in Gretna are working to gather enough supplies to fill food baskets for families who can't afford the Thanksgiving celebration.

'The economy is so bad right now, so it's sad because a lot of people out of work, and they don't have the money,' said Jerry Dean Meyers of Benefit Holiday Food Drive.

They are hoping to fill baskets with turkey and trimmings for 400 families, but as happened two years ago, donations are down this year.

'We're very concerned,' said Councilman Chris Roberts. 'We're at about half the normal collections that are referred to, monetary donations used to purchase the turkeys. Based on the amount of money we received, that will dictate how many turkeys we can purchase.'

What makes them worry even more is what happened last year, when donations were down so much they had to turn people away Thanksgiving week.

'We only had 350 baskets, and we signed up 400, and the people were very mad,' Meyers said. 'They were mad with me.'

They're also depending on donations of canned goods from school children.

'Oh, it's absolutely critical, and the beautiful thing about it is these kids understand, or learn how beneficial helping other people who have less than they do is,' said Jefferson School Board Member Mark Morgan.

'It's a joyful time to watch them go through the line to get their turkey, get their canned goods, and leaving with excitement,' said Jefferson Parish Councilman Ricky Templet. 'But I've also seen them when they ran out and had to turn away, and hopefully this year we can address that issue.'

Meyers said, 'Whatever they give to others, God gives right back to them.'

For information about donations, call 364-2617.

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