Our non-profit organization started from a prank back in November 2017. Someone had put a friend’s contact information on Craigslist saying he was giving away free turkeys just before Thanksgiving - he was not. But our friend immediately received numerous phone calls inquiring about the free turkeys. Upon realizing there was a large need for something like this in our community, we gathered a group of local friends to actually raise some funds to give away turkeys that Thanksgiving. Through a short fundraising effort a few days before Thanksgiving, we were able to raise almost $1,500, which was used to purchase turkeys and sides. That food was given away to people in need in downtown Cedar Rapids the day before Thanksgiving as an effort we titled “Operation Give Birds”. From there, the decision was made to make this a formal annual event. In November 2018 (year 2), with more lead time and better organization, we raised $5,400 and were able to provide free turkeys and sides to 280 local families!
After Thanksgiving 2018, the leaders of “Operation Give Birds” asked themselves:
1. Do we have the capacity to do even more?
2. What does this additional charity effort look like moving forward?
From these discussions, the “Iowa Giving Crew” non-profit organization was formed in early 2019, acquiring 501(c)(3) status, meaning contributions are tax deductible as allowed by law. “Operation Give Birds” will continue to be our main annual charity effort, but now we’re looking to grow even more to help even more local families. We’re establishing an annual fundraising event that will fund these future endeavors, and we’re identifying additional opportunities to provide essential support to those in need in our community.
Operation Give Birds III was even more of a success! We were able to hand out 545 meals to people in the Cedar Rapids area! We are weighing our options for 2020, including an expansion of Operation Give Birds. Due to COVID-19 and the financial impact, we see the need only being greater this year.
Distributing Thanksgiving meals to members of our community.
Taking the concept of Operation Give Birds to the next level.