James Brown Thanksgiving turkey tradition continues

A tradition started by Augusta music legend James Brown in 1991 continued Monday with the distribution of about 300 turkeys to residents in need.

 

“It’s a wonderful tradition that Mr. Brown started,” said W.E. Lofton, who lives in the Bethlehem community of Augusta. “It’s good they keep doing it.”

Brown’s daughter Deanna Brown Thomas, and other family members through the James Brown Family Foundation, have continued his Thanksgiving turkey giveaway since Brown’s death on Christmas Day 2006.

Brown Thomas said this year’s giveaway went off without a hitch as about 300 recipients who preregistered over the past few weeks lined up at 7 a.m. for the 8 a.m. giveaway, which was nearly completed by 8:45 a.m.

“This year has been another blessing,” she said. “We’re just thankful that God has blessed us with so many people – volunteers, sponsors – it’s a community effort truly to help out our neighbors.”

Turkey giveaway sponsors such as Checkers, which provided a bagged snack to participants, come back year after year, but sponsors of another Brown holiday tradition, the Christmas toy giveaway, aren’t lining up this time, she said.

“We’re a little strained this year because we’re not getting support from some organizations, specifically Toys for Tots, that we have worked with in the past,” Brown Thomas said. “We’re still going to move forward and register those children.”

A short line of participants who did not preregister also received turkeys Monday, including thrice-deployed disabled veteran Regina Labon. Labon said she recently relocated from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Augusta to be near South Carolina relatives and heard about the turkey giveaway on the radio.

Labon said a recent first meeting with her birth mother resulted in some unexpected knowledge about the Godfather of Soul.

“I’m his cousin,” she said.

Reach Susan McCord at (706) 823-3215 or susan.mccord@augustachronicle.com.

Beginning Nov. 25, the James Brown Family Foundation will begin taking registrations for the Annual Christmas Toy Giveaway at the James Brown Arena from 9 to 11 a.m, another tradition the Godfather of Soul began more than 25 years ago. Registrations will continue on Dec. 2 and 9.

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