OGDEN -- In America First Credit Union's warehouse Friday morning, Ginette Bott cooed and cheered, saying things like, "Oh wow!" and "Look at all the peanut butter!" and "We love to see baby food!"
Bott, chief marketing officer for the Utah Food Bank, was making rounds picking up donated turkeys and other food for this year's holiday food drive.
The credit union's donation is a good start, she said as she pondered eight pallet loads of groceries and 268 turkeys she'd loaded up. But there's a long way to go, Bott said.
Nicole Cypers, America First Credit Union's spokeswoman, said this is the eighth year the financial institution has collected groceries and donated turkeys to the food bank.
It started as a way to observe Make a Difference Day during International Credit Union Week, she said, and continued as a community service.
Food was donated by credit union members, employees and the public during the past month at AFCU branches.
In addition, Cypers said, the credit union donates $5,000 worth of turkeys each year.
Friday morning, she and food bank workers made the rounds, first at Harmons grocery store in Roy, to pick up 67 boxes of turkeys, four turkeys per box, or 268 total.
Over at America First's warehouse in the Riverdale Industrial Park, the truck stopped to load up the donated groceries, eight boxes, each 5 feet tall, filled with canned, boxed and bottled goods.
Since the credit union started the program, Cypers said, it has collected 76,000 pounds of food, not counting this year's. In addition, it has purchased $5,000 worth of turkeys each year.
Bott said she is grateful, but this load is only the start of a long drive to help out low-income families for Thanksgiving.
This year, she said, the Utah Food Bank and its 129 affiliated agencies are looking at helping 23,000 families with a Thanksgiving dinner, including a turkey, in addition to meeting ongoing daily demands for emergency food.
That's about 2,000 more families than were served last year, Bott said, despite Utah's improving economy that includes one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation.
"What people don't understand is, for this process to get turkeys for every family, we need to start early," she said.
Need has increased during the last year, Bott said, because many workers "are only going back to jobs that pay less than they are accustomed to."
"So the numbers look great for government reports, but the reality is, there's still a great deal of need."