Berkeley police are trying to raise money to revive a holiday turkey basket program.
Berkeley police are trying to raise money to revive a holiday turkey basket program.

After a two-year hiatus, the Berkeley Police Association has brought back its holiday “turkey basket” program for families in need.

The association is holding an art show Wednesday night, Nov. 19, to raise money for that program by selling photographs by three Berkeley Police officers. The charity event takes place at the recently opened Berkeley Underground nightclub in downtown Berkeley, at 2284 Shattuck Ave.

Officer Stephanie Polizziani, who helped organize the event, said the department used to raise money for turkey baskets — containing a turkey and fixings for sides and dessert — until two years ago when the program lapsed due to a lack of funding.

Polizziani said she was inspired to organize the renewed effort after the department received numerous inquiries over the past two years from people who had come to rely on the program.

“It’s been sad to say ‘no.’ A lot of Berkeley families depended on the turkey baskets,” she said this week. “It was a tradition for years, and they’ve been without the last two. We just wanted to bring it back.”

Polizziani said Grocery Outlet, The Acme Bread Company and Semifreddi’s have agreed to make donations to the program. The Rotary Club of Berkeley has committed to helping with cash support, and Cal Rotaract, a UC Berkeley service-oriented student group, has signed on to assist, too.

Polizziani said the goal this year is to raise enough money to give baskets to 100 families.

For the first time, the department is partnering with the Berkeley Housing Authority, Berkeley Youth Alternatives and the Young Adult Project, and hopes to raise $5,000 to buy Thanksgiving and Christmas meal baskets for families in need.

The event, “Art and the Badge,” will feature photographs from three officers, who also happen to be accomplished photographers: Lt. Kevin Schofield, Sgt. Cesar Melero and Lt. Jennifer Louis.

According to the association, 100% of the donations from artwork sales and 10% of food and drink sales will go toward buying turkey baskets for families in the upcoming holiday season.

“There is no set donation required for admission, but we encourage the community to attend this great event and give if they can to support our community during the holidays, a time when many of our families go without,” said Sgt. Chris Stines, police association president, in a prepared statement.

Those who can’t attend Wednesday’s event — which runs from 6-10 p.m. — can still donate to the program online.

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Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist of the Year...