Tori Spelling, Jason Priestley and Candace Cameron Bure Fight Hunger with 'Turkey on the Table'
With each purchase of the turkey centerpiece, meals are given to those in need
Turkey on the Table is a fun holiday tradition that makes it easy for kids and adults alike to remember that the whole point of Thanksgiving is to give thanks.
Since moms April George and Kerry Maunus created Turkey on the Table five years ago, they’ve helped feed more than 1 million people — and now have a celebrity following including Tori Spelling, Jason Priestley, Candace Cameron Bure and others.
Even Jennifer Garner has bought one of the memorable centerpieces, the duo tells PEOPLE.
“We’ve been blessed,” says Maunus.
The two came up with the idea for Turkey on the Table — which can serve as a centerpiece or holiday decoration — in the fall of 2013 when they met in the California Bay area and became fast friends.
As the pair got to know each other better, they soon discovered that they had a favorite holiday in common: Thanksgiving.
After dropping their children off at school each morning, the two would talk about how important it is to be thankful for everything, big and small, as well as giving back — and how to teach that to kids.
“Although we were just getting to know each other, we realized quickly that we both wanted the same for our children…grateful hearts with a spirit of giving,” says Maunus.
Their conversations led them to create Turkey on the Table, an adorable little butterball of a bird dressed in a knit sweater that comes with attachable double-sided cardstock feathers and a marker for written messages of gratitude.
It even comes with a heartwarming little book, Turkey on the Table: Start a Tradition, Give Thanks & Give Back.
The best part? Not only does it make a fun centerpiece or holiday decoration, but for each turkey purchased for $40, 10 meals are donated to those in need through their partnership with Feeding America, which works with food banks nationwide.
“We’re happy that this is bringing awareness to hunger in America,” says George. “In fact, more than 40 million people in the United States are food insecure, including single moms and people with jobs. That means they rely on the Feeding America network each year for extra support.”
She adds: “Everyone should have access to food in this country.”
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The mompreneurs, who were among PEOPLE’s 25 Women Changing the World in 2018, were thrilled to announce that they sold enough turkeys in 2018 to provide more than 1 million meals.
“Although a million meals was a huge milestone for us, we also know it’s a drop in the bucket and we are eager to keep helping the best we can,” says George, who now lives in Nashville, Tennessee.
This year, celebrities including Beverly Hills, 90210 star Spelling, her co-star Priestley and his wife Naomi Priestley, Fuller House star Cameron Bure and others have put them on their tables, since they encourage conversations about gratitude and giving back.
“I loved starting the tradition of Turkey on the Table with my kids,” says Spelling. “They are loving expressing with their turkey the things in their lives they are grateful for — a beautiful tradition we will continue every year.”
“Turkey on the Table is a super cute way to teach my kids even more about gratitude, and it’s an easy way to give to those in need,” says The Bachelor star Catherine Giudici Lowe. “Because that’s what this season is all about!”
Says Cameron Bure: “Turkey on the Table is the CUTEST way to celebrate gratitude with my family and friends. I ask everyone to write on a feather throughout the month of November where Turkey Tom sits as my centerpiece. We can’t wait to read them all during Thanksgiving dinner.”
Neither can people across the country, it seems. “There’s a lot more customer awareness this year,” says George. “A lot more people are finding out about it.”
That’s because they’ve been networking, visiting local retail stores and doing everything they can to get the word out about the turkeys — all so they can help feed more people.
A Greater Array of Replacement Feathers
Given the runaway success of the turkeys, George and Maunus added something new to the menu this year: a paisley-decorated replacement feather designed by actress and New York Times bestselling author Kimberly Williams-Paisley.
The feathers Williams-Paisley designed are “feather packs that give back.”
One meal will be donated for each of the packs featuring the new design, which are sold exclusively on turkeyonthetable.com.
The turkeys also have a lot of accessories to keep them well dressed all season, including a holiday hat set, round eyeglasses, and a jaunty scarf.
George and Maunus work year-round to make Turkey on the Table a success. In October, the moms hosted an @feedsupper in Alamo, California, and raised enough money to donate 26,000 meals to Feeding America. Turkey on the Table was also invited to host pop-up shops in Nashville at White’s Mercantile and Draper James.
Even though it’s not always easy to juggle raising families with overseeing a company, George and Maunus say they will keep going no matter what.
“Neither of us planned to start a business,” says Maunus. “We simply came up with an idea that we wanted to use in our own homes, and it resonated with others. There are days that are stressful, but we try to remind ourselves of the bigger purpose. Knowing that we have thousands of families that are using our product as part of their family’s Thanksgiving tradition is hugely rewarding, and the meals we have provided thanks to all of those customers make it all worth it!”