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Via: News & Observer

Thanks for your help in making the Turkey Drive a success!! We were successful in raising the money to donate 102 turkeys this holiday season. 40 turkeys were raised for the Raleigh Rescue Mission, 40 turkeys for the Durham Rescue Mission and 22 turkeys to families in need thanks to Mt Zion Baptist Church in Viriginia & TSW Foundation. Not only that, we made the News & Observer.

Brian Dawson, a Triangle entrepreneur and dude about town, was recently honored by a national magazine as one of the country’s top 30 disc jockeys – oops, since they no longer spin discs, you now have to call them “radio personalities.” As host of K97.5’s afternoon drive time show, he is, understandably, basking in the glow of national recognition from the hip-hop community.

He’s also basking in the warmth of turkey-filled ovens that are providing sustenance to hungry people. When I talked with Dawson, 40, it wasn’t hard to tell which meant more to him.

“About six years ago I went out on Thanksgiving Day to the Durham Rescue Mission and saw them feeding the hungry,” he said Monday. “It changed my life, just watching families get so excited over something that I’d taken for granted my whole life.”

The scene inspired Dawson: “I realized I could use my radio status to help people.” He started a foundation – TSW, named after his brother Tishawn Wood, who was killed in 2001 at age 19 in a car accident – and began raising money to help rescue missions in Durham and Raleigh.

The first year, he said, he raised enough to reach his goal – 35 turkeys for each mission. His sixth annual turkey drive is providing 102 turkeys to the missions and to a church in Fredericksburg, Va.

Delaner Venable, volunteer coordinator for the Durham Rescue Mission, applauded Dawson’s contribution.

“It helped a whole bunch,” he said. “Last year, we fed about 3,000 people. This year, I suspect there’ll be a few more because of the economy.”

Venable said the mission still needs canned goods, as well as rice and cereals. More than that, he said, it needs volunteers and contributions: “We need help 365 [days a year] because we get no state or city funding.”

A few weeks ago, former Duke basketball coach Bucky Waters invited me to the mission’s annual fundraising banquet at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel.

I know, I know: For me to eat with anyone who used to coach Duke’s basketball team defies logic and would cost me friends – if I had any. Waters is so passionate about the Rescue Mission, though, that it’s easy for this Tar Heels fan to forgive him for having once drawn Xs and Os for the Dark Blue Side.

Waters, who serves on the mission’s development board, and Venable both said a lot of well-meaning people fall into the same category that I, unfortunately, once did: During the holidays, we briefly overwhelm missions and other charitable institutions with our help and then, en masse, desert them until the next year.

“It’s not as drastic as that,” Waters said correcting me, “but this time of year there is a giving spirit that moves people to help.”

I was fixing to ask Dawson how he felt about being known to some people – OK, just to me – as “the turkey guy” when he started telling me about the other charities he’s involved in year-round.

That’s when it occurred to me that the real turkeys are those of us who don’t help people in need – even during the holidays.