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Vernon Rice Memorial Holiday Turkey Program

One quick and easy way to give to the community is through our holiday turkey program. A $25 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 and December holidays.

In order to purchase a Thanksgiving meal for a family, donations must be received by Nov. 10, 2019. To purchase a family meal for the December holidays, donations must be received by Dec. 8, 2019.

You can donate via credit or debit card. Please revisit this site in the fall to make a donation.


Who was Vernon Rice?

Our holiday turkey program is named for Vernon Rice, a former JHU employee who launched his own unofficial charity effort in 1976. Vernon, a maintenance mechanic for the Homewood campus vehicle fleet, wanted to bring help to people in need in our community. After his work shift, he began a regular routine of picking up requests for help—for food, prescriptions, with utility bills, or other needs—from members of Baltimore’s St. Anthony of Padua Church.

By 1993, Vernon had helped hundreds of families, many of whom were facing another holiday season in need. Vernon 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, Vernon 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 Vernon provided a list of families in need.

Vernon worked for JHU for 18 years and in 1995 received Johns Hopkins’ Martin Luther King Jr. Award for Community Service. That year, a record 85 gift certificates were delivered. Vernon 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.