Everyone gets turkey at James Brown giveaway

More than 1,000 people got turkeys at Brown's annual giveaway.

After almost 20 years of providing the main ingredient for Thanksgiving dinner, the annual James Brown Turkey Giveaway experienced a first Monday.

Everyone who wanted a turkey got one, said Deanna Brown Thomas, Mr. Brown's daughter and the president of the Brown Family Foundation.

"We've never had it like that," she said shortly after the last turkey was handed out. "It says a lot, especially since it's a recession. When you ask God to bless, you have to be ready to take that blessing." Close to 1,200 turkeys were donated or bought, and more than 1,000 people received the birds.

Joan "Candy" Iles carried her turkey on her shoulder with a smile Monday morning after a two-hour wait. The mother of five has benefited from the giveaway for about four years, she said.

"They are going to tear this bird up," Ms. Iles said about her family. "It's something that blesses me so much. I'm looking for a job, and I would have had something to eat on Thanksgiving, but nothing like this."

The Rev. Al Sharpton and others lined up early Monday morning to hand out the turkeys. The Rev. Sharpton said the community response that helped the giveaway happen this year is a testament to Mr. Brown's legacy.

"He never forgot where he came from, and his children and grandchildren remember that," the Rev. Sharpton said. "As long as God's smiling on us, we'll find a way to make it happen."

Yamma Brown, another daughter of the music icon, said she was impressed with the donations.

"It's not about the celebrities. It's about the people, and the people really stepped up to the plate this year," she said. "It's a blessing to see what Dad started almost 20 years ago is still going strong."

The turkey and the smiling people handing them out brightened Brenda Story's day. She said she started the year homeless, and by Christmas she'll be moving into a new home. The turkey gave her one more reason to be thankful, she said.

"It just makes you feel good and thank God," she said. "James' vision is still here. He's gone, but in a way, he's still here."

Reach Stephanie Toone at (706) 724-0851 or stephanie.toone@augustachronicle.com.