Turkeys for Tickets drive collects thousands of turkeys for families in need

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Sabres fans had the chance to get free game tickets while giving to their neighbors in need Thursday morning.

The annual Turkeys for Tickets drive was held from 6 a.m. until 9 a.m. at the KeyBank Center, the Wegmans on Alberta Drive in Amherst and the Wegmans on Orchard Park Road in West Seneca.

Western New Yorkers lined up to drive through the lines and drop off their donations. For every 20-pound turkey dropped off, or the equivalent of a 20-pound turkey, the Sabres gave the donor two tickets to an upcoming game. Each person could get a maximum of four tickets.

All of the turkeys collected will go to the Food Bank of WNY and City Missions for distribution to Western New Yorkers in need.

“We purchase a lot of turkeys, but we do have a goal of donated turkeys from everyone, so this year, it’s 5,200. This event alone will bring in around 2,000, which is a huge chunk of that,” said Lauren Picone, food bank coordinator for the Food Bank of Western New York.

Even before the drive officially started for the day, cars were lining up at the KeyBank Center surface lot to drop off turkeys and pick up tickets to one of several upcoming games of their choice. “Oh it’s great! Not only do we get some fans in the building, which we’re always happy about, but it’s a great opportunity for our community to step in,” said Chris Bandura, Vice President of Media Relations for the Buffalo Sabres.

This is the eighth year for the Turkey for Tickets donation drive, and every year Western New Yorkers are very generous with their gifts.

For the fourth year in a row, Batavia Downs stopped by to donate 100 turkeys, on behalf of its employees. “We want to give back to the community as we always do. We wanted to give these turkeys away,” explained Ryan Hasenauer, Director of Marketing for Batavia Downs. “The tickets go to a good cause, as well. We use them to give to our employees.”

New York State Police also went above and beyond with a big donation Thursday, dropping off nearly a thousand dollars for the Food Bank of Western New York, which was raised at this year’s Trooper Kevin Dobson memorial golf tournament.

“We’re members of the community just like everybody else and it’s a great feeling to come down here today and give someone a little extra boost for the holidays,” Trooper Jeff Bebak said after presenting the donation.

To learn about more ways to give to the Food Bank of WNY this holiday season and year round, click here.

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