CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (CBS 2/ FOX 28) — A Marion man and his friends started a movement to feed local families this Thanksgiving.
They call it #OperationGiveBirds, but the idea originally developed from a Craigslist ad.
Austin Hermsen said someone put his phone number on a Craigslist ad claiming he would be giving away 30 turkeys to families who called the number.
Hermsen received an overwhelming response to the ad, which he never created.
In a Facebook post, Hermsen said, "I received a flood of calls and texts, and it broke my heart that these people could really use a turkey."
"That's where we kind of came in and said, lets help them out, and help anybody out we can," said Nick Dusil, #OperationGiveBirds organizer.
Hermsen immediately enlisted Dusil and some of his other friends to help.
"It was great to see, our friends and our community come together and help people," said Dusil.
Dusil and his friend spent Tuesday night buying, loading and prepping 80 thanksgiving meals to give to families who reached out.
They posted their idea on Facebook, asking friends and families to make donations to Pay Pal and send food.
They raised over $1,300 dollars to feed families, which is helping them give more than just turkeys to the cause.
"Because we raised so much money we're giving them green beans, cream of mushroom soup, corn, potatoes, and stuffing," said Dusil. "They'll basically have a whole Thanksgiving meal that they can prepare for themselves."
Dusil said they received hundreds of calls from families asking for a meal, which is more than they will be able to provide.
"Unfortunately, since it was kind of thrown together the last four or five days, that we weren't able to help as many people as we like," said Dusil.
However, they plan on making this into a yearly tradition.
"As we go forward we're hoping to help more people every year and not turn anybody away," he said.
Hermsen is on vacation right now, but he told CBS 2/FOX 28 he knows who created the Craigslist ad, and that person has since donated a turkey to help with the cause.
His friends will be handing out those meals Wednesday morning to families pre-selected to receive the meals, and any remaining donations will go to local organizations.