From Hashtag to Turkey: Using Web To Feed a Community

People walk through a buffet line at the First Annual Downtown Turkey Throwdown. The event was held on Monroe Mall in Grand Rapids, and was advertised primarily through social media web sites. (Photo: Charles Jurries)

Nov. 23, 2009

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – In the time it took to write a tweet, a community gathered together for Thanksgiving.

The First Annual Downtown Turkey Throwdown was held on Monroe Mall earlier today, a community-wide holiday potluck.

Danny Beckett, who was inspired after gathering together with family a couple weekends ago, conceived the event.

“I left that [meal] with a great feeling of thankfulness,” Beckett said.

Last week Monday, Beckett reached out to a couple friends on Twitter, Cindy Grace and Lisa Lehmann, to figure out how to spread the holiday cheer.

“I said, hey guys, what do you think about bringing the community together to kind of share this thanksgiving,” he said. “They were totally onboard.”

“By that afternoon, when Lisa and I made the first tweets, we already had interest,” Grace said. “”It’s pretty amazing.”

Beckett said that he doesn’t believe an event like the Turkey Throwdown could have been thrown together without social media web sites, with as Facebook and Twitter.

“It created a sense of community involvement,” he said of the sites. “It just goes to show you the positive things that social media can do.”

Grace also hopes this event helps in correcting a misconception attached with the popular web sites.

“People think people who are on Twitter and Facebook are like these social recluses,” she said. “We’re not. We’re not.”

“All we really wanted to do was have Thanksgiving dinner with our neighbors,” Grace said.

The event was free of advertising and promotions save for a collection drive of non-perishable foods for Mel-Trotter Ministries.

“There’s no1 marketing agenda,” Grace said. “It’s just to meet and get to know each other better.”

Connie Lindsey heard about the event through television, and came down to participate.

“I think it’s a fantastic thing,” Lindsey said. “You know, if every person would bring one item down, how many people it would feed.”

Lindsey said she believes the event is great for the community, and that it will help to bring people to downtown Grand Rapids.

“And you get to have Thanksgiving twice in one week,” she said.

As for a Second Annual Downtown Turkey Throwdown? Grace is optimistic.

“It would be lovely do to this again next year and I think there’s interest, based on the number of people that have showed up,” Grace said.

Beckett said that he hopes that this year’s event inspired people to go out and accomplish more in life.

“You know, in tough times, if you bring the community, you bring people together, you can accomplish some great things, like far greater than we can ever imagine.”

(Click here to view the broadcast script, via Scribd)


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