Families waited with anticipation in their cars Friday as they formed a line along Palace Avenue to Nutbush Street in Tyler to receive a free fully cooked turkey for Thanksgiving.

Christus Trinity Mother Frances Health System and the Houston Temple Church of God in Christ partnered for the giveaway to help make Thanksgiving special for community members in need.

The event began at least 30 minutes before the originally scheduled time as there were already nearly 300 cars filled with up to two families, waiting to receive their free fully cooked turkey.

At the hospital’s first-ever turkey giveaway event, 500 Greenberg turkeys were originally going to be handed out, but as cars kept arriving, members of the Christus Trinity Mother Frances Health System unloaded a second truck that arrived halfway through the event, carrying 200 more Greenberg turkeys.

Cedrick Granberry, who serves on the Community and Leadership Board at Christus Mother Frances Hospital, works with the local chapter of the NAACP and is also a minister at the Houston Temple Church of God in Christ.

“Christus has been such a blessing to this community and to the city of Tyler,” Granberry said. “Community is what it’s all about. It’s all about giving. It’s more of a blessing to give than to receive, but look at the reciprocation in giving. It’s a blessing to receive as well, because you know somebody else cares. Somebody else knows your struggle, someone else is cognizant that everybody is not as fortunate as some.”

Granberry commended the leadership at the hospital, saying they’re a “fine group of people.”

“It’s just the art of giving. It’s a blessing. Look at the people that have received, the families, the mouths that are fed, and it’s teaching the children to always remember your neighbor. That’s the importance of it and we hope that it can continue to be a tradition,” Granberry said.

Keviesha Lacy, clinical director over the Medical Surgical Trauma Unit and Ryan Tamula, admin director for the Emergency Department at Christus Trinity Mother Frances, attended the drive-thru distribution to represent the hospital and to hand out boxes of turkeys.

“Jason Proctor, (President of the Christus Trinity Mother Frances Health System) reached out to us to bring our staff to help give back to the community that we serve day in and day out, just another way to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ,” Tamula said.

Usually working directly with patients and by their bedside at the hospital, Lacy and Tamula said today was a different day for them, but with the same mission.

“We serve our community by our patients coming to the hospital when they’re sick and they’re down, but it’s great to serve other populations that also need our care and the services that we provide, so it’s rewarding as well,” Lacy said.

Tamula added, “It’s a nice change of pace. Usually in the hospital, they’re in agony and suffering and here everyone’s smiling and ready to chow down. We’re happy to deliver.”

Tamula said he was excited that life felt as if it were coming back to normal Friday as vaccination rates continue to rise. He emphasized the community to get vaccinated against COVID-19 so events like these continue.


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Bilingual Multimedia Journalist

I cover COVID-19 and health in the East Texas area for Tyler Morning Telegraph, the Longview News-Journal and Tyler Paper Español. Stephen F. Austin State University alumna. For story ideas, email me at rtorres@tylerpaper.com.