Karen Kennedy peers tentatively from behind her apartment's partially opened door, wondering who has come a-knocking late on a Friday afternoon.
When she spots Herb Garvin, a broad smile spreads across her face. It's the mailman who always delivers a kind word with the envelopes. Only this time, he isn't on official business. He's delivering help and hope and thanks - and turkeys.
As Garvin hands Kennedy a turkey in a Piggly Wiggly plastic bag, she says a heart-felt thank you and gives him a firm hug.
"Ain't that so sweet," Kennedy says moments later. "He's so sweet."
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Kennedy's apartment off Grand Street is the first of 35 stops Garvin makes on his second tour of his mail route this day. That's 35 turkeys, paid for with his own money (with a discount from the folks at the West Beltline Boulevard Piggly Wiggly). If each turkey helps bolster a Thanksgiving meal for a family of four, Garvin figures his effort will translate into 140 full bellies and thankful hearts on Thursday.
"When you walk a (mail) route, you develop a rapport with the people," Garvin says. "You know the ones who are in need."
He wishes he could hand out turkeys to every one of the 730 stops on the route he has worked for a dozen years. But he does what he can, starting with 12 turkeys a few years ago and now giving away 35 before Thanksgiving and 35 more before Christmas.
"I probably should do more, but you can't fix everything," he says.
Five minutes later, as he pulls up to a house a few blocks away from the apartments, several people in the yard greet him.
"How ya doin' Mr. Mailman?"
"Whatcha got for us?"
Garvin asks one of them, "Where's my sweetheart at?"
They point to the house, and Garvin steps up on the porch and knocks.
When Ashley Kelley opens the door, Garvin says, "If I didn't bring some meat by, I couldn't come for dinner."
Kelley looks stunned as he hands her a turkey.
"Oh man, thank you," she says.
Garvin beams at her excitement, but he doesn't linger to soak up the love.
He bounds back to his turkey-filled pickup to hustle to the next stop on his route. The late fall light is fading, and he has 31 more turkeys to deliver.