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One West Island family is giving back, one home-cooked turkey at a time

Click to play video 'West Island family helps dole out turkey dinners for Thankgiving' West Island family helps dole out turkey dinners for Thankgiving
No Thanksgiving is complete without a turkey. As Global’s Brittany Henriques reports, one West Island family is giving back to mark the occasion.

No Thanksgiving is complete without a big home-cooked turkey, and to mark the holiday, one West Island family decided to give back to their community.

“I’m down and out, I’ve been laid off — it’s been a really bad year so far for everyone. I want to bring a little positivity to the people of my community,” said organizer Randy Gibara.

Gibara decided to stuff and cook some turkeys this past weekend and sell them as a way to make a bit money. He was left with extra birds and took the initiative to give them away to families in need.

“I put an ad out there and it totally exploded,” said Gibara.

On Monday morning, Gibara took to his neighbourhood Facebook group “West Island Community” to share the news.

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“I offered to give back to the community for the people who were really down and out and needed it,” said Gibara.

Read more: What’s open and what’s closed on Thanksgiving Monday in Montreal

Within hours, more than 800 people liked the post and he received an outpouring of messages from community members, asking what they could do to help.

“I had a couple people message me to help me out and do these deliveries,” said Gibara.

“I’m very touched.”

Amer Sayyam is one of the volunteers who reached out to Gibara. Less than half an hour after reaching out, Sayyem took off to grocery stores to find the Gibara family more turkeys to cook and donate.

“If my community needs my help and I’m capable of doing it, I’m there for everyone with whatever I could do,” said Sayyam.

Members of the West Island community came together to help. Volunteers purchased turkeys, found families in need and delivered the home-cooked meals right to their doors.

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Matt Budd was also a part of the group that reached out to help the Gibaras.

“He’s an awesome guy with a big heart,” he wrote. “Helping those who need it most when it means most.”

Read more: Thanksgiving turkey sales drop as industry struggles amid the pandemic

“The people were really happy,” said Sayyam. “It felt good. It felt really good.”

Gibara said he is touched by everyone’s kindness.

“For the people coming to my aid to help other people — it has been really special,” said Gibara.

His mother thought it would be too much to take on at first.

“First of all, I said so much work,” said Christine Gibara.

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But with a lot of help from the community, some families will be getting a Thanksgiving dinner of their dreams.

“A lot of them were so happy. Some families have nothing for today and we were so happy to help them,” she said.

Read more: Picking apples and pumpkins amid Quebec’s COVID-19 restrictions

Pandemic lay-offs haven’t been easy for some West Island families. West Islander Karen Wright was recently laid off from her job and has been struggling to keep afloat.

“With a situation like COVID and I have a very large family, we have seven children and I’m recently separated,” said Wright, who accepted Gibara’s gracious donation.

“Things have really really gotten very difficult for me trying to support everything at home and just trying to survive day to day.”

More than eight turkeys are being are being donated to families and shelters. Each 13-pound turkey is worth over $55.

“He offered,” said Wright.

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“He said that he had some extra turkeys, and if there were any families that could use them. I said for sure, my family could use it. That’ll bring a little bit of joy to our table tonight.”

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