Marin County plumber gives out hundreds of turkeys to help bridge economic divide

For the fourth year in a row, a Marin County plumbing contractor gave out hundreds of Thanksgiving turkeys to needy families. 

"Anybody who's willing to wait in line for a turkey, probably needs a turkey," is how Peter Levi puts it.

Owner of a company that bears his name, Levi has 35 employees, including himself and his wife,Cheyenne.

Much of that staff was in front of Mi Pueblo Supermarket in San Rafael Tuesday night, helping with the giveaway at 6 p.m., when the first pallet of 150 birds was rolled out, people were waiting. 

"I thought who should be hungry at Thanksgiving," said Levi, "and it does my heart good. Let's give away some turkeys!"

His plumbers, tearing open boxes and thrusting turkeys to the throngs, joked it's as back-breaking as their day job.

Certainly it's fasterpaced; 600 turkeys are usually gone in an hour. 

"Two years ago when I did this, the line was three times as long, " said service technician Greg Taylor.

Levi is the ringleader, handing out turkeys and holiday greetings throughout. 

In a county where the average income is about $90,000, he sees a deep economic divide. 

"I think it is as simple as buying some turkeys," said Levi, " and if all of us gave back this way, anyone can just buy turkeys and give them to people who need food."   

"Thank you, thank you so much, for this turkey for my family," exclaimed one woman, clutching her ten pound prize.

"It helps families a lot," said sewer technician Diego Ramos, "and you can see them just hurrying here to get a turkey. It's their meal." 

Another recipient expressed appreciation, explaining that she is hosting a big pot luck dinner. 
"Especially since it's over 30 people, getting free turkeys is amazing because it gets expensive," said Ruby Carillo of San Rafael 

Philanthropy is valued and practiced at the plumbing business, with a portion of revenue donated each month to a different non-profit organization. 

"This is year-round. He's one of the most charitable people I've ever met," said senior technician Troy Bradley, who has known Levi since 1995.

"He could have anything he wants, but he chooses to buy his jackets at the thrift store!"

For Levi's newest employee, in the office two months, the turkey trot was unexpected.

"It has nothing to do with plumbing," said Evelyn Espinoza, smiling. 

But the effort, so rewarding.  

"Everyone's happy, everyone's smiling, it feels really good," said Espinoza. 

At night's end, $8,000 worth of turkeys were gone. 

Of that Levi had a few donors offset the cost, but absorbed more than $5,000 himself.

He notes, he's not a big commercial operation.

"Most of our jobs are in the $500-600 range, so this more than a few plumbing jobs for sure," he smiled.