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A few weeks ago news broke that Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry‘s annual Thanksgiving turkey giveaway would have some strings attached.
A flyer from Barry’s office said Ward 8 residents with kids who wanted a free bird needed to attend every parent/teacher conference and PTA meeting in October and November. Childless residents needed to go to at least three community meetings.
“I am doing things a little differently this year,” Barry wrote on the flyer. “Pre-registration is now required.”
But that was then. Now, the newest version of the flyer from Barry’s office says you can register on the day of the giveaway, which is this Tuesday, starting at 9 a.m. at Union Temple Baptist Church.
“The only requirements are 2 health screenings that will be available that day,” the new flyer says. “This will be done on a first come first serve basis.”
Barry says he had to adjust his plans after they met with some pushback from his residents.
“We just had a hard time getting people accustomed to that we are not doing dependency anymore,” Barry says, adding that the health screenings will include checking for high blood pressure, diabetes, and other maladies.
But Barry says next year will be different, and the original requirements he wanted in place for this year will have to be met in order to get a free turkey.
“I’m not giving away stuff for free anymore,” he says. “No one is going to get a turkey unless they do something.”
Barry says he’s raised somewhere around $38,000 to $42,000 for this year’s giveaway, but declined to say who the donors were. He says the money is going to a nonprofit, which will then purchase the turkeys. Barry also declined to name the nonprofit. “I’m not telling you that, either,” says Barry.
When LL tells Barry the turkey business sounds like political donations that ought to be reported and publicly disclosed, Barry says LL’s too cynical.
“The only goal here is for people to have a turkey for a good Thanksgiving,” says Barry. “Of course it has political benefits, but I’m not doing it for that reason.”
Barry added, rightly, that he’d still be popular in Ward 8 even if he didn’t give away turkeys.
Those with plans on getting a free bird ought to get there early. If history is any guide, not everyone’s turkey needs will be met on Tuesday.