As a bitter afternoon wind whipped across the rear parking lot at Clayton Area Ministries, Gretchen Silfee waited, and she smiled.
She continued moving up in a line of about 30 people until she got to the front. Silfee handed a voucher to a tall, thin man, and he handed her a turkey.
The single mother of a 9-year-old and triplets, who works at Walmart, walked away thankful.
“It’s a huge help,” Silfee said. “Turkeys are not inexpensive.”
This past week, Silfee received one of 200 Butterball turkeys that Clayton Area Ministries will give out around Thanksgiving to families in need. Butterball works with the Clayton-based Archway Foundation each year to donate the turkeys to Clayton Area Ministries, a food bank that serves about 800 town residents each month.
Chris Archer, a Clayton High graduate and pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays, helped hand out turkeys on Tuesday, along with some of his friends and the high school’s Men of Distinction Club.
Through the Archway Foundation, Archer said, he likes to be the bridge between two organizations or between one organization and people in need.
“Without both parties, it would be impossible for me to buy 150 turkeys and find 150 people who are actually in need,” Archer said.
Archer said he tries to come home during a large portion of the off-season to spend time with friends and family. He said his parents taught him how important it is to be selfless.
“I learned that with the baseball platform, I have the ability to affect a lot of lives in a positive way, and that’s all I’m focused on doing,” he said.
“Obviously, I have my job, and I take care of business when it comes to that,” he said. “But I think one of the reasons why I’m able to do what I do is so I can do this, in turn.”
Dale Matthews, among the leaders of Clayton Area Ministries, said the turkeys will go to residents who get vouchers from area churches. “They are all people who are just having a hard time making ends meet,” she said.
Grifols, the pharmaceutical company, also usually donates about 50 turkeys to her ministry each year, Matthews said.
Headquartered in Garner, Butterball says it will donate about 1,900 turkeys in North Carolina, including 1,236 in the Triangle area.
Locally, Butterball also donated about 612 pounds of fully cooked turkey breast to Serve the Need, which is also based in Clayton but serves families throughout Johnston County.