This Nov. 2, 2009 file photo shows a Thanksgiving turkey. The average Turkey Day dinner will cost $49.04, or just 44 cents less in 2013 than it did in 2012. (AP Photo/Larry Crowe)

On a Saturday morning in October, Gary Webb, president of OCJ Kids, drove an hour south to make a presentation to a tiny group in Ahwatukee about the charity’s efforts for foster children in Phoenix. Sheila Coonen, executive director of Connecting to Serve, which represents a collection of churches and organizations in Ahwatukee, reassured him that he wasn’t wasting his time with the very small group.

Moved by Webb’s description of no memorable Thanksgiving meal for those in group homes, two members of Connecting to Serve, Carolyn Blaney-Arndt from Desert Foothills United Methodist Church and Andi Pettyjohn from Ahwatukee Kiwanis, quickly committed to creating a “real” Thanksgiving turkey dinner for these kids. With guidance from OCJ Kids Shevaun Sullivan, the Connecting to Serve team had foster children from group homes and Passage Transition Coalition arrive on buses and cabs at Biscuits restaurant on Elliot Road Nov. 25 for a full turkey dinner served by volunteers. Donations for the purchase of turkeys and all the fixings, and 50 home baked pies came from Ahwatukee churches and donors.

Currently, Pettyjohn is leading efforts to provide Christmas gifts and new clothing for youth in a number of foster groups homes. To get involved, contact

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