Partnering Up in Turkey Giveaway
This Thanksgiving, IBEW 1820 and IBEW 1289 in NJ held their Second Annual Turkey Giveaway to help families in need
New Jersey business managers Jeff Bollermann and Brian Kube grew up a few blocks from one another in the bayside town of Union Beach, just across the water from New York’s Staten Island. Neither remembers his family ever having enough to celebrate Thanksgiving the way they imagined it.
That’s why the duo – Kube with Lakewood Local 1289 and Bollermann with Neptune Local 1820 – teamed up to provide a full Thanksgiving dinner, with turkey and all the trimmings, for 24 needy families in northern New Jersey.
“I grew up poor, and a big Thanksgiving dinner wasn’t something we could afford,” said Bollermann. “A meal like this would have meant absolutely everything to my family when I was a kid, so to be in a position to do it for others, I can’t think of anything more important.”
The food drive started last year at Local 1820 when the local’s RENEW/NextGen young members’ chapter delivered Thanksgiving dinners to 13 families in the area. This year, with the young members still involved, Bollermann looked to his old friend Kube, who had just been elected business manager at Local 1289, to help.
“Jeff and I grew up with the same values, that you help people where you can, and so doing this together – solidarity between our locals – was something that we really wanted to do,” Kube said.
Bollermann’s local raised money at its annual picnic and Kube’s business representatives and stewards passed the hat at worksites. Together, the members raised enough to buy two dozen 15-pound turkeys, 120 pounds of potatoes, 50 pounds of yams and enough corn, cranberry sauce, string beans and desserts to feed a football team.
The Saturday before Thanksgiving, volunteers from both locals met to organize and pack the meal boxes and then to distribute them to three different food banks – eight meals each to families in Ocean, Monmouth and Morris counties.
“This year’s event came together sort of last minute,” Bollermann said. “But we’re committed to it already for next year, and we’re going to do it even bigger.”
Kube said he was blown away by the response from members of his local, who work for a handful of utility companies, including Jersey Central Power and Light and Sussex Rural Electric, as well as at the Oyster Creek Nuclear Plant and for NRG Energy.
Local 1820’s members work for N.J. Natural Gas and N.J. Home Services.
Both men hope their locals, whose halls are just 17 miles apart, will partner even more in the future for projects like this, giving back to the communities that have given so much to them.
“It’s a pretty remarkable thing that two poor kids from Union Beach grew up to both be business managers in the IBEW,” Bollermann said. “Now we’ve got a responsibility to give back, and I’m glad we’re doing it together.”