Trotting out the turkey costume for a good cause

Bessborough School principal Nick Mattatall dressed up as a turkey, to help deliver a big donation to the 21st annual Sue Stultz/Moncton Firefighters Turkey Drive Wednesday. He was accompanied by 560 students, who donated 150 turkeys.

Bessborough School Principal Nick Mattatall dresses as a turkey to teach kids about giving

Bessborough School principal Nick Mattatall dons his turkey costume and marches down Milner Road in Moncton, along with 560 students, to donate to the 21st annual Sue Stultz/Moncton Firefighters turkey drive. (Kate Letterick/CBC News )

It's not every day you see a school principal dressed in a turkey costume, walking down the street followed by 560 kids.

But that's exactly what happened Wednesday morning as Nick Mattatall and the students from Bessborough School made the trek down Milner Road in Moncton to the fire station on St. George Boulevard.

The children had something important to deliver to the annual Sue Stultz/Moncton Firefighters turkey drive — 150 turkeys, worth about $2,900.

"Every year the kids raise $2,500 or more. I put on the costume and we march down as a group to deliver to Sue and the firefighters," Mattatall said.

Bessborough students donated 150 turkeys to the 21st annual Sue Stultz/Moncton Firefighters turkey drive. The turkeys will go to help needy families in southeastern New Brunswick. (Pierre Fournier/CBC News )

Mattatall said the kids started a social entrepreneurship project this year, making turkey buttons with the name of the school on them, along with a picture of a turkey and two hearts. He said button sales alone raised $500.

Mattatall said helping the community provides the students with an important lesson.

"We want good citizens, and these kids are going to take really good care of our community and good care of us as we go forward," he said. "They're good students but they're good people too and that's most important."

This is the 21st annual turkey drive, and Grade 8 student Nev Dubois has taken part for nine years.

Grade 8 student Nev Dubois says she looks forward to the turkey march every year and enjoys helping people. (Pierre Fournier/CBC News )

"It's nice to know that you're giving back to the families in need and they have something on Christmas Day to eat," she said.

It's something she looks forward to every year.

"I get really excited and when we do the assembly at school, it's a lot of fun. And also it's nice to have a fun thing to look forward to when you're helping out families," Dubois said.

And she's a big fan of the principal's turkey costume.

"He does it every year, it's a tradition. It's really fun and all the kids love it!" she said.

Fellow Grade 8 student Olivia Kikkert agrees.

Grade 8 student Olivia Kikkert has taken part in the turkey drive for eight years. (Pierre Fournier/CBC News )

"I think it's hilarious. We had to walk right behind him and it was really funny," Kikkert said.

But Kikkert also appreciates the fact that the school is providing turkeys for so many families.

She said it's something she'll think about on Christmas Day.

"Smell your turkey cooking and think of what you've done," she said.

Sue Stultz founded the turkey drive in 1997. The first goal was 800. This year they're hoping to collect 4,132 turkeys. (Kate Letterick/CBC News )

Sue Stultz founded the turkey drive back in 1997, when she owned a convenience store in the area.

In the first year they aimed for 800 turkeys, to provide one to each needy family in southeastern New Brunswick. At the end of collection, they received 1,147.

This year the goal is 4,132, 109 fewer than last year. The deadline for donating a turkey is Friday.

Stulz says the Bessborough students have been great supporters.

"They have worked hard all year to raise money to make sure that a 150 families were going to have a turkey on Christmas Day, something that we take for granted," Stultz said.

Bessborough School principal Nick Mattatall dressed up as a turkey, to help deliver a big donation to the 21st annual Sue Stultz/Moncton Firefighters Turkey Drive Wednesday. He was accompanied by 560 students, who donated 150 turkeys. 0:44

Stultz said the people of Moncton have embraced the yearly event.

"This has got a life all [of] it's own and it belongs to the people of the greater Moncton area, and they do a good job feeding southeastern New Brunswick turkeys on Christmas Day," she said.

Stultz said there have been donations from as far away as California, Victoria and Yellowknife, from people who grew up in Moncton.

After making the big donation, Nick Mattatall is ready to hang up his turkey suit for another year.

Principal Nick Mattatall is ready to hang up his turkey costume until next year. 'The kids expect it now,' he said. (Kate Letterick/CBC News )

"The kids expect it now. It's part of the territory," he said with a smile.

"It's a little chilly this year. It's not the warmest suit but it's worth it. It's a couple of hours and it makes a big difference, so it's worth it."