Delaware Public Media

Norman Oliver's statewide turkey handout continues growth in 37th year

Nov 25, 2019

The statewide turkey giveaway headed by Norman Oliver continues to grow after nearly four decades. 

Oliver began feeding the homeless the week of Thanksgiving 37 years ago under bridges in Wilmington. And on Tuesday, he and hundreds of volunteers have the goal of giving away 6,000 turkeys to needy Delawareans in all three counties. That will be the most Oliver has given away in any one year.

He says the event continues each year to attract new volunteers from different organizations. 

“We’re finding more and more groups like the Wilmington Senior Center, St. Patrick Senior Center, Bill Collick, who was a coach down at Delaware State in Dover, Delta Sigma down in Seaford Delaware,” said Oliver. “So it’s getting expanded where a number of people outside of our jurisdiction—folks that we never hooked up with—were able to help out this year.”     

Oliver, who served for 12 years on Wilmington's City Council, credits the event’s continued success in part to a mayor’s challenge.

“Where all the mayors up and down the state participate to see what mayor can get the most turkeys,” he said. “The Seaford Mayor won last year. And this year … it's going to be interesting.”       

Tuesday’s handouts start in Wilmington before heading to Boys and Girls Clubs up and down the state. Many churches and community centers will also receive turkeys this year.

Food Lion is the lead sponsor of the event.