The Johns Hopkins Gazette: December 17, 2001
December 17, 2001
VOL. 31, NO. 15


Turkey Program Honors Founder

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

Eight years ago, Vernon Rice, a maintenance mechanic for the Homewood campus vehicle fleet, wanted to find a way to provide holiday dinners to families in difficult economic circumstances. Every day since 1976, at the end of his shift, Rice had stopped by St. Anthony's Church to pick up between five and 15 messages from people in the community who needed food, prescriptions filled, financial assistance to prevent evictions and utility shut-offs, or counseling. After personally visiting hundreds of families each year, Rice knew the need was real. He felt sure that Hopkins employees would be willing to donate food but did not want to have to stockpile perishable food items on campus and then deliver them to the families.

Meeting with Judy Peregoff of Faculty, Staff and Retiree Programs, the two devised a plan to provide Butterball Turkey gift certificates to the families. The $15 certificates, good for a turkey or other food items, would be distributed in time for Thanksgiving and again for Christmas. Peregoff's office would solicit donations and administer the program; Rice would provide a list of families in need.

This year, the program will continue as the Vernon Rice Memorial Butterball Turkey Program, in honor of Rice, who died on Dec. 2. His son, Sam Rice, an HVAC technician at Hopkins, and daughter, Elise Hough, have helped FSRP pick up the loose ends and connect with church staff. In future years, the Office of Faculty, Staff and Retiree Programs will work with St. Anthony's Church to identify families in need. Rice had worked for Hopkins for 18 years and had received the 1995 Martin Luther King Jr. Award for Community Service, the Governor's Award for Volunteerism in 1996 and several other service awards.

This year, a record number of at least 85 certificates will be delivered. Contributions to the effort will be accepted through Dec. 19. To participate, send a $15 check, made payable to JHU Butterball, to Eden Blum, Office of Faculty, Staff and Retiree Programs, Evergreen House, 3rd floor; for more information on this program, contact her at 410-516-0345.

--Caterina Provost-Smith