Department of Psychology Annual Gay Bisanz Memorial Turkey Challenge

13 December 2020


In 1996 the CBC started its Turkey Drive in collaboration with the Edmonton Food Bank. In those days the Department held a potluck in December to mark the holiday season for graduate students, staff, and faculty members. In response to the CBC’s new Turkey Drive, a small bucket was placed at the potluck so that people could donate whatever pocket money they might have at the moment. The Department would raise about $60 in this way.

Back then CBC sought frozen turkeys, and Professor Emeritus Jeff Bisanz remembers buying three turkeys with the departmental donations and delivering them to the CBC station with his son, for deposit in a freezer.

Jeff’s wife Gay Bisanz, who served as Acting Chair in 1997-98, then Assistant Chair Asha Rao, and other office staff decided to make the departmental turkey drive a regular event. They encouraged people in the Department to come up with novel ideas for raising donations, including raffles and sales. Jeff remembers former faculty member Lori Buchanan (now at the University of Windsor) coming to his lab and singing until his lab members donated enough to make her stop!

Some years later graduate students came up with the Pie-A-Prof event. The professor of the class that donates the most toward the event gets pied in the face on the last day of class. Over the years staff members and students have come up with some very creative raffle ideas, such as homemade jewelry and knitted items, themed gift baskets, art pieces, baked goods, event tickets, book sales, mac-and-cheese lunches, and so on.

After Gay passed away in 2005, Asha and others re-christened the event as the Gay Bisanz Memorial Turkey Challenge. Over time the Turkey Drive became an established, distinctive, and spirit-lifting event for the Department. Thousands of dollars have been raised each year, and the Department won awards from the CBC for making the largest contribution for our organizational category. This year, due to Covid-19 the department cannot raise money with face-to-face activities. Rather, in the spirit of CBC's fundraiser we have changed our Pie-A-Prof event to Pie-A-Psychology-Member. We hope you will enjoy the short video we have created, and are encouraged to perform acts of kindness that could include making a donation directly to the Edmonton Food Bank.