Lucas Holter

Last Monday, the Yale Police Department began gathering monetary donations for its Annual Turkey Drive, a Thanksgiving day event that provides food for New Haven residents.

The Turkey Drive, launched in 2016, is part of a broader effort by the YPD to reach out to the New Haven community. In its first year, the YPD aimed to gather the funds for 50 turkeys, according to Martin Parker, a YPD officer. But they ended up with enough funds for 285. Last year, the Turkey Drive fed 287 local families — 1,093 people in total. On Thanksgiving Day, the officers hand out meals to families in need.

“I am from New Haven, so when I joined the YPD four years ago, I wanted to help to build a stronger relationship between the police and the New Haven community,” Parker said. “Especially with the negative image of policing these days, I thought it would be important to let the residents of New Haven know that we care about them.”

Ward 22 Alder Jeanette Morrison, who is responsible for the Dixwell neighborhood and several residential colleges, praised the officers’ “selflessness.” She added that they are devoting precious time that they could be spending with their family to help people in need.

“Last year, so many people from my neighborhood were calling me about how grateful they were for the turkey and the food,” she said.

Karen King, director of the President’s Public Service Fellowship and community affairs associate, wrote in an email, “The Office of New Haven and State Affairs has been proud to support the YPD’s community service programs and initiatives.”

Bob Potter, the owner of the local restaurant Prime 16 and a longtime friend of Parker, is offering to sell the turkeys to the Turkey Drive at a wholesale price and to donate 50 pumpkin pies.

“I decided to help with Martin’s [Officer Parker’s] idea because I thought that it was a great opportunity to contribute to the community,” he said.

Even members of the Yale community outside the YPD have found ways to get involved. Last year, Zack Cooper, an economics professor, was teaching his microeconomics class about probabilities. He told the class that if the coin landed on heads he would donate the money for the YPD to buy a turkey himself. If the coin landed on tails, the students would have to collectively offer the funds.

“The coin landed tails, and I just decided to donate a turkey. It was a nice cause and a fun way for the class to do a little something good,” Cooper said in a email to the News.

Currently, the YPD is in its second week of gathering donations. According to Parker, this year is “the first time the YPD is truly marketing to the University” through an active effort to solicit donations from students, faculty and staff. He said that any form of help from the Yale community, either through volunteering a few hours to the drive or through monetary donations, “would be greatly appreciated.”

The YPD will be accepting donations until Nov. 13.

Ayumi Sudo |