SPOKANE, Wash. — If you've watched KREM 2 News at any point over the last 32 years, you've likely seen Chief Meteorologist Tom Sherry bring you the weather forecast. While he has been known as the Inland Northwest's best television weathercaster for the last 27 years, there is one annual event that members of the community know him best for.
Tom's Turkey Drive helps provide 11,000 families with a complete Thanksgiving meal and is a holiday tradition in the Inland Northwest.
“I also really do like being known as the guy who is Tom of Tom's Turkey Drive. That makes me feel very good,” Tom said.
Each November, KREM 2 asks people in the Inland Northwest to donate at area Rosauers or online. A $20 donation buys a complete Thanksgiving meal for someone to prepare at home.
For those who give, it’s about compassion and tradition. For those who receive, it’s about thankfulness and gratitude.
“It’s just a wonderful, wonderful way to be human, to be kind," Tom said. "It’s the best thing I’ve ever been involved with."
Tom’s Turkey Drive started in 1999 to try and help provide a unified way to provide all the fixings for people to make a Thanksgiving dinner. It was about empowering people to make their own meals and their own memories.
“We just thought, 'Can we just knock this thing out in one weekend?'" Tom said. "Originally, we thought we were just going to do a couple hundred meals, and then we got up to a couple thousand meals, and now we're up to it's become a big deal."
Now, the annual event impacts nearly 50,000 people. It’s survived wild weather, economic downturns, and a global pandemic. Most recently, meals have been distributed at the Spokane County Interstate Fairgrounds in a car-only, hands-free environment to keep within COVID-19 protocols.
The process has changed, but the feeling that Tom’s Turkey Drive inspires is the same.
“Now that we’ve been doing it over two decades, the stories that I get are amazing, and the older I get, they almost make me cry,” Tom said during a recent interview.
One of the most powerful stories from Tom's Turkey Drive involves two young kids from Cheney, who would visit the event every year with their saved-up pennies.
“They would have like a baggie full of their change that they had been saving from chores they did or Christmas gifts," Tom recalled. "There would be some paper money in there, too."
The now-teenage boys started coming to Tom's Turkey Drive when they were just five and six years old.
"I kind of grew up with them," Tom said.
Zack and Erik Edge can hardly remember a Thanksgiving when they didn’t visit Tom at a nearby Rosauers where he hosts the annual event. While Tom remembers them fondly, both of the young men think of him often as well.
Best of Tom's Turkey Drive: Zack and Erik
“At the end of the day, you are contributing to something far bigger than yourself," Zack Edge said. "And no matter if it’s one penny or thousands of dollars, it doesn’t matter. Just as long as you are giving something."
And that is what Tom’s Turkey Drive has become: giving what you can to help feed your friends and neighbors. And that’s what it has been for more than two decades. A chance to give back. For two teens from Cheney, it’s become a lifelong lesson in community and compassion.
And for Tom Sherry, it’s been a legacy.