Nearly 300 turkeys were gifted to Proviso Township High School District 209 families on Saturday, Nov. 21, in a drive-through giveaway, the first ever for the district.

During the event, known as “Turkey Express,” turkeys were distributed via contactless drive-throughs set up in the parking lots of Proviso East, Proviso West and the Proviso Math and Science Academy (PMSA). Free turkeys were provided to families with children in the D209 school district.

How much do 300 turkeys cost? About $3,200, according to a press release from the district. The money was raised by D209 administration, faculty and staff.

According to the district, Superintendent James Henderson and D209 employees realized that COVID-19 has been difficult for families, including presenting economic hardships for many.

“This has been a particularly difficult year,” Henderson said in the release. “Some of our families are struggling and, unfortunately, we may never know which of the students sitting across the computer screen need help.” He said the $3,200 to purchase the turkeys was collected in less than a week.

“I could not be more proud of my team for their generous spirits and for stepping up to make sure our families have a great holiday,” Henderson said.

Ensuring safety during the giveaway was a priority, and public health guidelines were followed. In fact, parents never left their cars at all. They pulled into the lot, popped their trunk, and a turkey was dropped into their car by a D209 staff member.

State Representative Chris Welch, who graduated from Proviso West High School and is a past president of the Proviso school board, stopped by the event on Saturday.

“This is a great way to give back to our families,” Welch is quoted as saying in the release. “I am a proud alum of Proviso West and it makes me even more proud to know that the faculty and staff pitched in to make this happen for our community. It is a tremendous showing of care and concern and it means nearly 300 families will have turkeys on their holiday tables. This is a noteworthy effort.”