Peggy Triplitt knows the turkeys will come, she's just feeling a little frantic because, with just a week until the annual community Thanksgiving meal Swingtime Cafe serves, so few donated birds have landed in the kitchen at the West Lake Avenue restaurant.
Triplitt and chef Antonette Wood have been cooking for hundreds of Watsonville residents for the past seven years.
The lunch started with six turkeys and 150 people. These days, the women cook with the intention of serving 1,000 meals in Hansen Park on Thanksgiving afternoon.
"It just got bigger and bigger," Triplitt said.
The Swingtime Cafe meal relies heavily on donations: Watsonville Coast Produce gifted 200 pounds of yams, 150 pounds of potatoes and 100 pounds of onions Thursday afternoon. Next week, the produce distributor will come by with fresh salad mix.
So the side dishes are covered.
But Triplitt and Wood could use some turkeys.
Last year, the women had more than 60 turkeys. They cooked and served 45 of them and donated the rest to Second Harvest Food Bank, which partners with Swingtime Cafe to put on the free meal.
This year's donations, well, "they are slow," Wood admitted.
They had just 14 turkeys Thursday. Wood had already roasted, de-boned and froze about half of the birds. She said she has to start cooking far ahead of time to get the whole menu done.
The women are hopeful donations will come in, the same way volunteers materialize to serve the meal.
"This is the time that God reminds me that there are still people out there who really care and want to help in any way they can," Triplitt said. " ... We're just the focal point. It's actually the whole community together."
To make a donation, call the cafe at 831-786-0812 to find out when someone will be in. Swingtime Cafe, at 19 W. Lake Ave. near Main Street, is typically open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Thursday.