Like Cinderella's helpful mice, about 60 kindergartners and first-graders at Hawthorne School pitched in Monday afternoon to assist in delivering 100 frozen turkeys to the Gallatin Valley Food Bank so families won't go without this Thanksgiving.

"This is light - I can carry it with one hand!" one little boy declared.

"Cold, cold, cold," said another, as the temperature on the playground hovered around 8 degrees.

"Nice work, good job," TimTrzinski, Gallatin Valley Food Bank program director, told the kids as they handed him turkeys to toss in the back of the Food Bank's van.

Trzinski said the 100-turkey donation at Hawthorne is one of the bigger donations to the Food Bank.

As of Monday morning, the Food Bank had received about 1,800 turkeys, he said. Though that's far short of the goal of 3,000, he was optimistic because more are still coming in.

Parent Bret Walker said this was the fifth or sixth year for the school's turkey hand-off.

Walker, a Bozeman excavator whose four kids have attended Hawthorne, purchased the pickup truck-load of turkeys and arranged the rendezvous at the school with the Food Bank van.

The tiny army of children carried the turkeys from the pickup to the van, and so got to feel they were helping out. They came from the classes of teachers Kristi Gaines, Lindsay Nordby and Joanne Heusel.

"The Food Bank was way short of turkeys," Walker said, explaining why he does this. "We try this once-a-year promotion of what the Bozeman community is all about. We're fifth or six generation Bozeman folks."

Renn Walker, 6, said she imagines people without a turkey would feel "bad." She said she thinks the gift of turkeys will make people happy.

The Gallatin Valley Food Bank started distributing turkeys and food boxes one day early on Saturday because so many people need help this year, Trzinski said.

About 1,600 are going to Bozeman households, and hundreds more will go to Three Forks, Belgrade, West Yellowstone, Livingston and Gardiner.

The food boxes still need turkey dinner fixings, from sweet potatoes to cranberries, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie ingredients, he said.

For more information about the Food Bank, phone 586-7600 or visit online www.gallatinvalleyfoodbank.org.

Gail Schontzler can be reached at gails@dailychronicle.com or 582-2633.

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