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By the numbers: Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 23

In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims — early settlers of Plymouth Colony — held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest. Many regard this event as the nation's first Thanksgiving. The Wampanoag Indians in attendance played a key role. Historians have recorded ceremonies of thanks among other groups of European settlers in North America. These include the British colonists in Virginia as early as 1619.

The legacy of thanks and the feast have survived the centuries, as the event became a national holiday 154 years ago (Oct. 3, 1863) when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving. Later, President Franklin Roosevelt clarified that Thanksgiving Day should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month to encourage earlier holiday shopping, never on the occasional fifth Thursday.

The following facts are made possible by the invaluable responses to the U.S. Census Bureau's surveys. We appreciate the public's cooperation as we continuously measure America's people, places and economy.

Where to Feast

118.9 million

The number of occupied housing units across the nation in the second quarter of 2017 — potential stops for Thanksgiving dinner.

4.6 million

The number of multigenerational households in the United States in 2016. It is possible these households, consisting of three or more generations, will have to purchase large quantities of food to accommodate all the family members sitting around the table for the holiday feast, even if there are no guests.


The number of places in the United States named after the holiday's traditional main course. Turkey Creek census designated place in Arizona, had 405 residents in 2015, followed by Turkey city, Texas (367); Turkey Creek village, La. (357); and Turkey town, N.C. (280). There are also 11 townships in the United States with "Turkey" in the name. (Please note that the populations of Turkey Creek census designated place, Ariz.; Turkey city, Texas; Turkey Creek village, La.; and Turkey town, N.C., are not significantly different from each other.)


The number of places and townships in the United States named Cranberry, a popular side dish at Thanksgiving. Cranberry township (Butler County), Pa., was the most populous of these places in 2016, with 30,739 residents. Cranberry township (Venango County), Pa., was next with 6,452 residents.


The number of counties, places and townships in the United States named Plymouth, as in Plymouth Rock,

the landing site of the first Pilgrims. The two counties named Plymouth are in Massachusetts (513,565 residents) and Iowa (25,200 residents).

Plymouth city, Minn., is the most populous place, with 77,216 residents in 2016.

There is one township and one census designated place in the United States named Pilgrim. Dade County township in Missouri had a population of 129. A census designated place in Michigan had a population of 50. There are also Mayflower city, Ark., whose population was 2,430, and Mayflower Village census designated place, Calif., whose population was 5,421. (Please note that the populations of Pilgrim census designated place, Mich., and Pilgrim township in Dade County, Mo., are not significantly different from each other.)

Note: Townships have been included in these counts from 12 states (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin) where the primary governmental or administrative divisions of a county serve as general-purpose local governments that can perform the same governmental functions as incorporated places. These county subdivisions are known as minor civil divisions, and the Census Bureau presents data for these in all products for which place data are provided.

(Please note that population totals for the two places on the list that are census designated places, Pilgrim, Mich., and Mayflower Village, Calif., and Pilgrim township in Dade County, Mo., pertain to the 2011-2015 American Community Survey.)

Participants in the First Feast

23.8 million

The number of U.S. residents of English ancestry as of 2016. Some could very well be descendants of the Plymouth colonists who participated in the autumn feast that is widely believed to be one of the first Thanksgivings, especially the 636,000 living in Massachusetts.


The number of members of the Wampanoag American Indian tribal grouping as of 2010, roughly half of whom resided in Massachusetts. The Wampanoag attended the first Thanksgiving, playing a lead role in the historic event, and were essential to the survival of the colonists during the newcomers' first year.

Preparing the Feast ... Enjoying the Day ... and the Aftermath

98.6 percent

The percentage of households in 2011 with a gas or electric stove — essential for cooking their Thanksgiving feast. Another 96.8 percent had a microwave, also helpful in preparing the meal.

98.3 percent

The percentage of households with a television in 2011. No doubt, many guests either before, after or perhaps even during the feast will settle in front of their TVs to watch some football.

35.8 percent

The percentage of households with a stand-alone food freezer in 2011, which they may want to use to preserve their Thanksgiving leftovers. Far more (99.2 percent) have a refrigerator. Once all the guests leave, it will be time to clean up. Fortunately, 69.3 percent have a dishwasher to make the task easier.

Culinary Delights


The number of supermarkets and other grocery (except convenience) stores in the United States in 2015. These establishments are expected to be extremely busy around Thanksgiving as people prepare for their delightful meals.

244.0 million

The forecasted number of turkeys raised in the United States in 2016. That is up 4.5 percent from the number raised during 2015.

859.0 million pounds

The forecasted weight of cranberries produced in the United States in 2016. Wisconsin was estimated to lead all states in the production of cranberries, with 521.0 million pounds, followed by Massachusetts (estimated at 207.0 million pounds). New Jersey, Oregon and Washington were also estimated to have substantial production, ranging from 19.4 to 58.8 million pounds.


The number of fruit and vegetable markets in the United States in 2015 — a great place to find holiday side dishes.

44.5 million

The forecasted number of turkeys raised in Minnesota in 2016. Minnesota topped in turkey production, followed by North Carolina (33.5 million), Arkansas (26.0 million), Indiana (19.5 million), Missouri (19.2 million) and Virginia (17.2 million).

$25.8 million

The value of U.S. imports of live turkeys in 2016, with 99.9 percent of them coming from Canada and the remaining from France. When it comes to sweet potatoes, the Dominican Republic was the source of 49.6 percent ($6.4 million) of total imports ($12.9 million). The United States ran a $13.7 million trade deficit in live turkeys during the period but had a surplus of $159.4 million in sweet potatoes.

3.1 billion pounds

The total weight of sweet potatoes — another popular Thanksgiving side dish — produced by major sweet potato producing states in 2015.


The number of baked goods stores in the United States in 2015 — a potential place to visit to purchase tasty desserts.

Stocking Full of Love toy drive underway; volunteer, make donations until Nov. 30

The Al Millard Stocking Full of Love Toy Drive is well underway in Walker County and its deadline for applicants is Nov. 30.

In 2016, Stocking Full of Love served 1,300 children. About five years ago, during the recession, the non-profit organization served more than 2,000 area children, Sheriff Steve Wilson said.


Applications have been available since Nov. 1 and can be located at Walker County Sheriff's Office, Walker County Family & Children's Services, and Rossville Police Department.

Online applications can be printed from the Walker County Sheriff's Office's Facebook page and the Al Millard Stocking Full of Love page.


According to Wilson, the Toy Store giveaway and setup is always appreciative and in need of volunteers.

The Toy Store will be located once again at Oakwood Baptist Church in Chickamauga. Volunteers are needed for the Toy Store setup, which will be Friday, Dec. 8, from 6-11 p.m.

The Toy Store giveaway will be Saturday, Dec. 9, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Volunteers would work in three-hour waves the day of the giveaway, with groups volunteering from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and noon to close at 3 p.m.


Anyone who would like to support a child in Walker County is asked to donate $50 per child, Wilson said. For example, for two children, it would be a donation of $100, and so fourth. Residents wishing to assist with the program and help area children have a special Christmas should mail a

check donation to P.O. Box 767.

ATV parade

The 14th Annual ATV Parade benefiting the Stocking Full of Love is set for Saturday, Dec. 2, from 3-6 p.m.

The event is hosted by the Chattanooga Valley Lions Club.

The parade route will start at the Chattanooga Valley Lions Clubhouse and travel to the Georgia-Tennessee line, where it will turn around and travel back through downtown Flintstone.

Cash prizes will go toward the best decorated 4-wheeler. A chili supper will follow the event.

Toy or cash donations will be accepted during the event. For additional information, contact Leon Ellis at 706-931-2551.

Thanksgiving, a time to relish blood relations and Blood Assurance

J.B. Gaskins

As families and friends reflect on the many things for which they are thankful this holiday, there is something easily overlooked but that can be the difference between death and life itself.

Since its founding in 1972, Blood Assurance, which has an office in Fort Oglethorpe, has provided safe and adequate supplies of blood for everyone in a 51-county midSouth region of Appalachia.

From humble beginnings, BA has grown to now serve more than 70 health care facilities in Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Virginia and North Carolina. But even as it has grown and matured over time, its mission of offering whole blood and blood components in a cost-effective manner to every area patient in need has been constant.

Today, Blood Assurance aims to revitalize and expand its base under the leadership of President and CEO J.B. Gaskins, who stresses that basic humanity of non-profit organization.

"People give to people — people give for people," Gaskin said when introduced during a recent Blood Assurance advisory board meeting.

Gaskins, retired after more than 30 years as a U.S. Army Reserve officer and a 37year involvement with blood banking, said his first experience with a blood bank's contribution to a community — and to those who make up that community — was personal.

The youngest of seven children growing up in central Florida, Gaskins' sister nearly died following a car crash. He attributes her survival to "medical attention, the power of prayer and the fact that 85 people had given blood."

Gaskins began his blood banking career in 1979, as a part-time phlebotomist, while attending college Gainesville, Fla. After several years drawing donor's blood and serving in "every role except as a lab tech," he moved into a blood bank management.

After 15-20 years as a manager in progressively larger systems in Florida, Gaskins came to the Chattanooga-based Blood Assurance that coincides with his Nov. 12 retirement from the military.

Having enlisted in

2007, Gaskins was commissioned in 2009 and retires with the rank of lieutenant colonel. During his military career, Gaskins primarily served in transportation and logistics, spending the last nine years as a training instructor, and was on active duty as an Army engineer in Virginia when the Pentagon was attacked on 9/11.

"A day I'll never forget," he said.

Gaskins said his strength coming to Blood Assurance is his skill in recruitment and collections.

While watching the bottom line is crucial, he said the key to the organization's vitality is restoring relationships in the community. Gaskins said he wants to build a strong foundation based on four pillars: operations, financial responsibility, safety, and quality of its products and people — both donors and staff.

"Nothing happens without donors," he said. "We are the stewards of the blood supply, a resource that is given to save lives."