Illinois comptroller, other leaders and organizations host Thanksgiving turkey giveaway in Cairo

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza visits the Arrowleaf Turkey Giveaway in Cairo, on Nov. 14, 2022.

Erik Unger/Office of Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza

CAIRO, IL — Illinois Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza was in Cairo, Illinois, on Monday to host the sixth annual Thanksgiving turkey giveaway there. 

Mendoza’s office worked with with LiUNA Laborers’ Local 773, human services nonprofit Arrowleaf, local officials and Krispy Kreme to provide the turkey giveaway. 

“I come to Southern Illinois throughout the year, several times. But this event is extra special because I get to meet so many residents who are facing hard times, and make sure they know they aren’t alone. They aren’t forgotten, I have their back,” Mendoza said in a statement released Monday afternoon. 

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza visits the Arrowleaf Turkey Giveaway in Cairo on Nov. 14, 2022.

Erik Unger/Office of Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza

Mendoza’s office donated frozen turkeys for the giveaway, and her staff donated rice, beans and cookies as well to the Cairo Women’s Shelter, which supports people affected by domestic violence in Alexander, Hardin, Massac, Pulaski, Pope and Union counties. The Cairo Women’s Shelter serves about 400 clients annually, Mendoza’s office says. 

Organizers at Arrowleaf say Laborers’ Local 773 donated side dishes to go with the turkeys. Additionally, Operation Warm donated coats and shoes for kids, Walmart donated backpacks and Krispy Kreme donated boxes of doughnuts. Organizers say the donated items were handed out by Mendoza and her staff, Rep. Patrick Windhorst, Cairo Mayor Thomas Simpson, folks with Laborers’ Local 773 and Arrowleaf staff members. Mendoza’s office says State Sen. Dale Fowler of Harrisburg partnered with the comptroller on the event from the beginning, but he was unable to attend the giveaway on Monday. 

Simpson said it’s encouraging to see government officials take an interest in his city. “It means a lot to me,” he said in a statement. “My goal has been to change the outlook and opinions of people here, and let people know things are not the way they used to be in the past, and this is a different time.”

Windhorst said it was heartening to see people work together to help their fellow Illinoisans. “You see our friends in labor, the Comptroller, the Mayor and other government officials coming together for the betterment of our community. To show our support – especially during the holiday season – it really means a lot to the citizens here to see us all working together,” Windhorst said in a statement. 

Arrowleaf organized the event and the giveaway site. Mendoza’s office says the nonprofit identified local families in need of turkey donations and helped organize transportation. Arrowleaf offers a food pantry that’s open 40 hours a week in the community. 

“We’re so thankful that the comptroller continues to come to Cairo,” Arrowleaf CEO Sherrie Crabb said in a statement. “She’s a familiar face, and she’s very much welcomed in our community because residents see her consistently contribute, and that she’s interested in them and what’s going on here. I think that means a lot to people who live in this community.”  

Mendoza’s office says this is the fourth year Laborers’ Local 773 has raised funding for the 150 turkeys and 600 cans of vegetables given to Cairo families. “Alexander County is one of the poorest counties in our state, and not only that, it’s also a food desert,” Laborers’ Local 773 Business Manager Jerry Womick said in a statement. “To be able to come out and provide some of the basics for Thanksgiving dinner – it makes perfect sense. We’re happy to have the ability to help and do our part.” 

Marion, Illinois, Krispy Kreme General Manager Angela Jones said the business was happy to contribute boxes of doughnuts to go along with the Thanksgiving meal donations. 

Mendoza’s office says Cairo is due for a major redevelopment project at the Alexander-Cairo Port District as part of the state’s Rebuild Illinois capital plan. That project is expected to create hundreds of jobs in the region and redevelop the port for trade. 

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November 14, 2022 at 06:02PM

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