It began as a small church volunteer effort in 2013 – helping to provide turkey for Siena/Francis House residents at Thanksgiving. But it turned into an annual calling for Tim Stephan, shift supervisor at OPPD’s North Omaha Station.
“We do plan for this all year long,” Stephan said. “The majority of it is the week of. I usually take one or two weeks of vacation to prep.”
Under his leadership, a team of 60 or so volunteers works from Stephan’s home, frying more than 70 seasoned turkeys. Thawing and injecting the donated birds is a week-long process he handles mostly on his own.
“I buy a Cajun seasoning that I like to use because I hear it’s popular with the residents,” he said.
Once volunteers de-bone the cooked turkeys, they freeze it in storage bags with chicken stock to keep the meat moist until it’s needed on Thanksgiving.
The effort is a huge undertaking, but Stephan gets help from his OPPD coworkers, friends and family.
“If you have ever talked to my husband,” his wife, Lisa, said, “You’ll get a text and an invite.”
Tim Stephan admitted he doesn’t get much sleep in the weeks before Thanksgiving, because he’s working to pull the effort together. But it’s worth it.
Stephan and his volunteers are giving the shelter enough cooked turkey to provide meals for not only Thanksgiving, but a couple of extra meals as well.
“I encourage everybody to do some community service in some way. I feel this is a small part, but we can do more.”