The Gentle Barn, a national nonprofit animal rescue and sanctuary, has launched a Turkey Guardian Campaign allowing anyone to become sponsors or “guardians” of one of five turkeys. PHOTO Courtesy of The Gentle Barn

The Gentle Barn’s new campaign invites people to protect these intelligent birds

By Kamala Kirk

The Gentle Barn recently launched its new Turkey Guardian Campaign, which gives patrons the chance to sponsor one of five turkeys (Smudge, Sun, Heather, Luke Skywalker or Romeo) for a $35 donation. The entire flock goes for $150.

“With all that is happening in the world right now and with everything that we have all been through over the last couple of years, this is a perfect time to start rethinking our beliefs and prioritizing our choices,” said Ellie Laks, founder of The Gentle Barn, a national nonprofit animal rescue and sanctuary.

“We can be better and do better, we can be kinder and be gentler to all creatures. I think there are many of us who are thinking about how we can make a difference to others. So in line with that, we are trying to inspire people to become a Turkey Guardian instead of eating one. We can make such a difference to others by simple little choices like eating plant based instead of eating an animal. The thought that 46 million turkeys are being slaughtered this year is devastating, to say the least. We want to start turning this around, one person and one turkey at a time.”

Guardians receive certificates commemorating their commitment to saving turkeys, and those who are near Gentle Barn locations in California, Tennessee and Missouri can visit the turkeys as well.

“Participants will get to create a special relationship with either one turkey of their choice or the flock,” Laks said. “They will receive a certificate with their turkey’s picture on it to put as the centerpiece on their table and to share with their friends and family on social media. They will get to share the turkey’s affection and intelligence with everyone they know, and they get the satisfaction of knowing that they are saving a life instead of taking one. They also get to be able to sit down around a table with their loved ones and enjoy a delicious meal knowing that no one had to suffer for them to enjoy it.”

The Gentle Barn was established in 1999 as a safe haven for animals who have nowhere else to go because they are too old, sick, lame or scared to be adopted. According to Laks, once the animals are rehabilitated and have recovered, The Gentle Barn strives to connect the animals’ stories of survival and healing to the personal experiences of underserved and special needs children and adults who have suffered physical, mental or emotional trauma.

By interacting with The Gentle Barn’s approximately 150 animals and taking a hands-on role in their welfare, those who participate in the programs at The Gentle Barn learn empathy, trust and forgiveness.

The Gentle Barn hosts many programs for people to heal among the animals including its 10-month animal assisted therapy program, Cow Hug therapy sessions and literacy programs.

They have partnered with foster care agencies, domestic violence shelters, homeless shelters, war veterans/PTSD, and schools in the inner city.

“Our mission is: Teaching People Kindness and Compassion to Animals, Each Other, and Our Planet,” Laks said.

“We have rescued turkeys and asked people to sponsor them monthly every year throughout the 22-year history of The Gentle Barn, but this is the first year that we have branded, ‘Become a Turkey Guardian’ Campaign to ask people to step up as guardians and heroes, and is now a one-time gift instead of a monthly sponsorship. We will bring it back next year and every year hereafter.

“We have turkeys who live at The Gentle Barn in all three locations near Los Angeles, Nashville and St. Louis. All three locations are open for the public to visit on Sundays and during the week for private tours. Please come to a Gentle Barn location near you where you can cuddle our turkeys, you’ll be amazed at how loving and wonderful these gentle creatures are.”

Anyone can sponsor a turkey or any of The Gentle Barn’s rescued animals all year round, but the deadline to be a Turkey Guardian for Thanksgiving and participate in this year’s campaign is Nov. 30.


The Gentle Barn