Vernon Rice Memorial Holiday Turkey Program

One quick and easy way to give to the community is through our holiday turkey program. A $45 donation will provide a basket of a fresh turkey and vegetables from a local farm for a family in need. The baskets are delivered by St. Anthony of Padua Church for the Thanksgiving holiday.

In order to purchase a Thanksgiving meal for a family, donations must be received by Nov. 8.

You can donate via credit card or debit card. Please click this link to make a donation.

Our turkey program is named for Vernon Rice, who worked as a maintenance mechanic for the Homewood campus vehicle fleet for 18 years. In 1976, he launched his own unofficial charity effort. After his work shift, he began a regular routine of picking up requests for help—for food, prescriptions, utility bills, or other needs—from members of Baltimore's St. Anthony of Padua Church.

By 1993 Rice had helped hundreds of families, many of whom were facing another holiday season in need. He decided to turn to Johns Hopkins for help in creating a charitable program that would meet that need.

Along with Judy Peregoff, then director of the Johns Hopkins Human Resources Office of Faculty, Staff, and Retiree Programs, Rice developed a plan to provide gift certificates to families. The certificates, good for a turkey or other food items, would be distributed in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Johns Hopkins solicited donations and administered the program while Rice provided a list of families in need.

In 1995, Rice received Johns Hopkins' Martin Luther King Jr. Award for Community Service. That year, a record 85 gift certificates were delivered. He died in December 2001. His son, Sam Rice, then an HVAC technician at Hopkins, and other family members helped Hopkins maintain the partnership with church staff so that families in need would continue to receive food during the holidays.