Brown family asks for help with giveaways

Last year, about 1,000 people left the James Brown Turkey Giveaway happy that they would be able to provide a proper Thanksgiving meal for their families.

Deanna Brown Thomas expects the number of needy to grow this year. That's why she and her family are again asking the community for help to make sure few families return home empty-handed.

The Brown family is seeking donations through The Brown Family Children's Foundation, its charitable organization that funds the turkey giveaway and Christmas toy giveaway. Family members hope to raise $10,000 for the events, matching the amount last year, but they said they want more.

"It's not a good feeling having to turn people away," said Mrs. Thomas, one of the music icon's daughters and president of the foundation.

This will be year 19 for the annual giveaways, which Mr. Brown began in 1991. It will be the third year since the Godfather of Soul died on Christmas Day 2006.

Before his death, Mr. Brown footed the cost of the turkey and toy giveaways with help from private donations and sponsors. Mrs. Thomas said the events will continue, but community support is needed if they are to serve as many people as possible.

"We're going to do the best we can," she said. "I'd like to see us give away 2,000 turkeys. It's really, really rough out there now."

Depending on his schedule, Mrs. Thomas said, she expects the Rev. Al Sharpton to stand in for her father, as he has the past two years.

Mrs. Thomas said she hopes to expand the giving to other cities. Part of that will include an effort to get professional musicians to tour college campuses and put on seminars to get young people involved in music.

But the turkey and toy giveaways will always remain the focus, she said. They were near and dear to her father's heart.

"He was one of those folks who didn't have any food," Mrs. Thomas said. "Dad never forgot from whence he came."

Reach Mike Wynn at (706) 823-3218 or mike.wynn@augustachronicle.com.

HOW TO HELP

The James Brown Turkey Giveaway begins at 10 a.m. Nov. 23 at Dyess Park.

The James Brown Toy Giveaway and Fun Day begins at 10 a.m. Dec. 21 at James Brown Arena.

- Donations can be mailed to First Bank of Georgia, 1580 Walton Way, Augusta, GA 30904; (706) 312-6500.

- If you're interested in donating products to the giveaways, contact Elif Crawford at (706) 267-4151.

Learn more about the family foundation at www.jamesbrownfamilyfdn.org.