NASHUA — Danielle Fiske says that although times are financially tough for her right now, she still has a lot to be thankful for this holiday season.
"I have been bouncing from place to place, and it hasn't been easy," said Fiske, of Nashua, while waiting in line Tuesday at the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter. "It means a lot to me that I can come here for help. I have a little one that I need to take care of, so I am so grateful for the food."
She joined hundreds of other individuals waiting to receive a free turkey and box of groceries at the facility's annual turkey distribution event.
"This is the stuff I really need — milk and eggs and bread. I can't wait to cook the turkey and be able to eat it on Thanksgiving," said Fiske.
About 500 turkeys were distributed by the soup kitchen on Monday, and an additional 500 were expected to be handed out by the end of the day on Tuesday. Along with the traditional holiday bird, all of the fixings such as potatoes, vegetables, rolls and dessert were packed into boxes and given to anyone in need.
"I love to see the smiles coming out the door when they get their turkey. Everyone is very grateful, and they actually give us the joy we need," said Scott McDougald of Nashua, who volunteered Tuesday at the soup kitchen facility on Chestnut Street.
Gov. Maggie Hassan was also present, handing turkeys to dozens of city residents willing to accept assistance this Thanksgiving.
"I have learned a lot about our community and all of the working families out there that are working so hard to get food on the table," said Hassan. "By being able to help out these families, it makes us all stronger."
Hassan, who plans to cook her own turkey for a crowd of about 25 on Thursday, personally wished those visitors to the soup kitchen a great Thanksgiving.
Guy Bergeron, a staff member, said Thanksgiving week is the most important food distribution week for the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter each year.
"These people are really in need, and we try to make it a happier time for their families," said Bergeron. "Many people need the help this year, more so than in past years."
Henry Glover of Nashua volunteered his time on Tuesday to help distribute boxes of groceries to those less fortunate.
"I know how it feels. I have been there. It is hard times for everyone," said Glover. "It feels real good to give back, and knowing that these people won't go hungry on Thanksgiving, that is a true blessing."
Lisa Christie, executive director of the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter, said that without the organization's annual turkey distribution, many Nashua families would go without a meal on Thanksgiving Day.She credited Helping Hands and the food collections at local grocery stores, which helped supply a significant amount of the groceries that were handed out Monday and Tuesday.
"It is not just a turkey — it is all of the fixings as well," said Christie.