For the first time in five years, New Albany resident Matt Freedman won't be frying Thanksgiving Day turkeys for charity at his house -- or at all.
But he still will be the catalyst for thousands of dollars raised for Ohio State University's James Cancer Hospital through his nonprofit organization, Fry Out Cancer.
Thanks to a partnership with the Columbus Culinary Institute, Freedman is outsourcing his annual turkey production, and he plans to increase preparation from 60 fried turkeys to 100 for the annual fundraiser.
Freedman, the founder and executive chef of Fry Out Cancer, said his board of directors challenged him to expand the event and secure partners to increase the money raised for cancer research, the number of turkeys going to families in need and volunteer opportunities.
Brian Phillips, a Fry Out Cancer board member and event volunteer, said as the donations and number of turkeys have increased each year, the organization needed to scale its growth to offer more money to the James.
"It's kind of a natural progression," Phillips said.
Fry Out Cancer dates to 2014, when Freedman raised about about $1,000 for Nationwide Children's Hospital, he said. He was motivated to start the fundraiser when one of his daughters was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.
Since then, Freedman has been prepping turkeys annually for people to purchase for their own families or donate to those in need. This year, he aims to send at least 50 turkeys to organizations that serve families in need.
The organizations with which Fry Out Cancer works include Faith Mission, the Harmony Project, iResolve Fitness Club, the New Albany Food Pantry, the YMCA Community Shelter Board and the YWCA Family Center, Freedman said. The New Albany Food Pantry receives the largest number of the donated turkeys, he said.
The New Albany Food Pantry typically receives about 25 turkeys from Fry Out Cancer each Thanksgiving, said Angela Douglas, pantry board chairwoman and treasurer.
Most of the pantry's families have students on the free and reduced-price lunch programs at the New Albany-Plain Local School District, and the nonprofit also receives referrals from local churches and via word of mouth, Douglas said.
"Most of these families need assistance all year," she said.
Fry Out Cancer also donates the money it receives for the turkeys.
Last year, Fry Out Cancer raised more than $16,000 for the James, Freedman said, and this year he hopes to raise more than $20,000.
Donations to the James are divided evenly between ovarian-cancer research and pediatric brain-cancer research.
The suggested minimum donation for each turkey is $136, Freedman said, and the birds can be reserved or donated to a family via fryoutcancer.org. Freedman said he is taking reservations from previous donors and will open up reservations to new donors the last week of October.
Turkeys will be fried Nov. 21 and Nov. 22 (Thanksgiving Day), although the majority of the birds that aren't being donated will be available Nov. 22. The first birds will be ready at 8 a.m. Nov. 22, with the last birds leaving the fryers at 2 p.m.
Although Freedman won't be frying turkeys himself this year, he said, he plans to visit the Columbus Culinary Institute at 2435 Stelzer Road to observe the process.
Christopher Tanner, culinary-program director for the institute, said students in the institute's meats and poultry arts class will prep the turkeys, clean them and inject them with brine as part of their coursework. The institute won't charge Fry Out Cancer for any of the work.
This year, the raw turkeys will come from Blue Ribbon Meats in Cleveland after Columbus Culinary Institute made an introduction, Freedman said. Fry Out Cancer pays for the turkeys by using revenue from sponsors, he said.
In some ways, Freedman said, not frying the turkeys himself will be tough.
Still, he said, he and his family won't be idle on Thanksgiving Day: Freedman, his wife, Lisa, and their children likely will be on site to help package the birds and perhaps deliver them.
Other family members visiting for the holiday might help, too, he said.
"I know that this is best for the cause," he said.
For more information, go to fryoutcancer.org.