More than 100 get a turkey, not a ticket
Demetre Mathews said she chose to replace her broken washing machine over spending money to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving dinner this week. But relief came in an unusual way — a traffic stop.
Mathews was one of 100 Southwest Louisiana residents pulled over Tuesday as part of the "Get a Turkey, Not a Ticket" initiative sponsored by the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office and Moss Bluff businesses 5 Star Quick Stop and Hot off the Press. Deputies handed out the 14-pound turkeys, instead of tickets, to drivers who committed minor traffic violations.
"This is so awesome," Mathews said as Sgt. Kerrick Gabrial handed her the frozen turkey. "This kind of stuff never happens to me. Thank you so much."
Sheriff Tony Mancuso said Caran and Harry Shaheen, owner of the 5 Star Quick Stop locations, approached them last year about donating turkeys instead of traffic tickets. He said the effort has been a success, with deputies handing out twice the amount of turkeys this year.
Mancuso said the gesture will hopefully remind residents to slow down and relax during the holidays.
"People tend to be in a hurry while they are out doing their holiday shopping," he said. "This allows us to accomplish two things — we do something nice for somebody, but we also have a purpose so we stop them and advise them of what they did wrong."
Gabrial, a third-generation member of law enforcement who has been with the Sheriff’s Office for 12 years, said the point of the initiative is to give back to the area.
"We want to show our appreciation to the community," he said.
Kim Courville was pulled over because her tail light was out. As Gabrial handed her the turkey, she said she had yet to buy one.
"This is amazing," she told Gabrial. "You made my day."
"Well, it’s one thing you won’t have to buy," Gabrial told her.
Melanie Key was pulled over while driving to the store to buy groceries for Thanksgiving.
"This is really wonderful," she said.
Kimberly Chavis was stunned when Gabrial handed her a turkey instead of ticket.
"I know I have a heavy foot, so I wasn’t going to fight it, but this is too funny," she said with a laugh. "It’s such a blessing. This is so cool."
Chavis plans to spend Thanksgiving with her parents in New Orleans. Before being pulled over, she planned to bring her mother a turkey.
"I’ve never made a turkey, and I’m not going to start today," she said. "This is such a blessing and now I have a nice story to tell."