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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The annual KDKA-TV Turkey Fund is underway, with a goal of raising more than $600,000 for needy neighbors in Southwestern Pennsylvania through Thanksgiving Day.

The money raised goes to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and other food banks and pantries in the area to provide grocery certificates for a turkey and donated fixings like cranberry sauce and stuffing.

The Food Bank’s Traci Weatherford-Brown says the need is as great as ever.

“We hear from families all the time that adults skip meals so the kids can eat, that seniors are choosing between filling a prescription or purchasing the groceries they need, that folks are choosing whether to take the bus to work or buying food for their family because they just don’t have enough money.”

KDKA-TV Turkey Fund Kicks Off On PTL —

The Food Bank estimates that one in seven families struggle to make ends meet when it comes to food each month, and one in five children goes hungry. Weatherford-Brown says family budgets are often stretched even further around the holidays.

“As people’s budgets get crunched, they definitely have to think twice about how they’re going to spend that dollar,” she said. “Not only do we see an increase in need, but we see an increase in support from the community and Turkey Fund is one of the ways the community reaches out.”

Over the past 35 years, this year is the 36th annual fund drive, the Turkey Fund has raised more than $15 million. In recent years, that effort has been supplemented through the support of PNC Bank, which is joining with KDKA again this year.

“Just because a person drives a car and has a house doesn’t mean they don’t have to make choices and sometimes that choice is not to eat,” said Jim Balouris, executive vice president at PNC Bank.

Balouris says viewers can bring their donations to any PNC Bank branch where PNC will match contributions of $50 or more up to $50,000. Viewers can also send a check to P.O. Box “Thanks” Pittsburgh 15230, or donate right here online.

He says he hopes, despite all the disasters elsewhere in the country this year — or maybe in spite of it — Pittsburghers will be especially generous this year.

“There’s been all kinds of devastation, fires, earthquakes, floods and hurricanes. Pittsburgh’s been lucky, so this is an opportunity to give back, for people to reach into their pockets and say I’ve had a good year I can help someone else,” he said.

Weathers-Brown says everyone, from the volunteers and staff at the Food Bank to their clients are grateful.

“The Turkey Fund has been an incredible gift to this community for 36 years now. We’re so thankful. The money comes in from all over the viewing area and goes right back out to the viewing area in the form of a gift certificate for a turkey and additional meal items for those holiday times,” she said.