Thanksgiving traditions will certainly be different this year. It's 2020, and too many families are trying to figure out just how to afford a turkey dinner, not to mention how to celebrate safely.

But one Cedar Rapids tradition of helping out is still going strong with the return of Operation Give Birds. This charitable food distribution event is entering its fourth year, and returns at a time when the Covid-19 crisis continues to worsen.

It started as a joke in 2017 between friends Austin Hermsen and Nick Dusil. What began as a prank with a play on words (you know, give 'em the bird!) has now grown to an organized food drive that helps those in need to provide a needy family with a Thanksgiving meal at no cost.

It's another one of the things that makes living in Eastern Iowa so satisfying. The way neighbors pitch in and step up to help out is good for the soul. The program has already fed more than 500 families over the past four years.

So it's a pleasure to share the details that today the Iowa Giving Crew is now directing families in need to register now for assistance from Operation Give Birds.

Iowa's News Now reports that meals can be picked up on Sunday, November 22 from the Van Meter locations in either Cedar Rapids or Iowa City.

You can donate to support Operation Give Birds by making a contribution through Venmo (@Iowa-GivingCrew) or PayPal (

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