Thanksgiving turkey giveaway

BARTOW — With inflation stubbornly high and many families still recovering from the brutal impact of Tropical Storms Ian and Nicole, a lot of families in Central Florida are struggling to pay all their bills and may not have any disposable income during this upcoming holiday season, including for Thanksgiving. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is again ready to lend them a hand.

Polk Sheriff’s Charities is sponsoring a free turkey giveaway on  Saturday, Nov. 19 at three Polk County locations as a way of giving back to the community.

Carrie Horstman, public information officer for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, noted that “We are joined in this effort once again by The Freedom Tour volunteer organization based in Lake Wales, whose mission it is to provide quality food and love to those in need.”

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd added, “We know that there are families out there who are struggling financially and we want to do our small part to help out during the holidays. This is the fifth year in a row that we’ve been able to provide turkeys to our citizens, thanks to the generous donations made year-round to Polk Sheriff’s Charities.”

What is Polk Sheriff’s Charities?

Polk Sheriff’s Charities, Inc. is a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit charitable organization, and they’re sponsoring the free turkey giveaway.

“This is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to Polk County citizens for their support of our deputies,” Judd said. 

The turkeys will be handed out one per family, one per vehicle on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last, with no pre-qualification required. The frozen turkeys being handed out by deputies will be in the 15 to 17 pound range, and 1,200 turkeys will be given away.

“We’re so grateful to the volunteers at the Freedom Tour for the use of their refrigerated trucks and for their food donations as well. It is so heartwarming to work with such a generous group of men and women and to be able to make a positive difference in others’ lives,” Judd said.

Where Can Families Get The Free Turkeys?

The turkeys will be given out at these locations:

  • In East Polk County, from 9-10:30 a.m. at Church on the Hill, 1111 Scenic Highway in Dundee;
  •  In Central Polk, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Lake Region High School campus, 1995 Thunder Road, Eagle Lake;
  • In West Polk, from 1-2:30 p.m. at Church at the Mall, 1010 East Memorial Blvd., Lakeland.

This Thanksgiving boost is a part of the ongoing work of Polk Sheriff’s Charities, Inc., which was formed in December 2006.

“Although the idea for the charity had been discussed for some time, it was formed as a result of the tragic murder of Deputy Matt Williams and K-9 DiOGi after a routine traffic stop,” Horstman noted. “The community’s outpouring of emotional and monetary support after that tragic event ultimately demonstrated how a charity like PSCI would be supported.”

The charity provides monetary support to Polk County Sheriff’s Office members who are facing significant unexpected negative events in their lives, scholarships for law enforcement family members and other deserving Polk County students, and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office law enforcement memorial.

The charity also supports any needs that the law enforcement community may have. That can include:

  1. Purchasing Christmas gifts for children in Polk County’s low-income neighborhoods
  2. Supporting organizations dedicated to assisting victims of crime and domestic violence
  3. Supporting local charities that work on quality of life issues
  4. and supporting the agency’s K-9 unit for the replacement of their K-9 partners.

To learn more about Polk Sheriff’s Charities, Inc.,  or to make a contribution, call 863-298-6604, or write to Polk Sheriff’s Charities, ATTN: Deb VanConant, 1891 Jim Keene Blvd, Winter Haven, FL 33880.

Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright, and author of the book A Christmas Eve Story. Contact him at


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