Jaye Burtnick says the Grinch came a month early this year and stole the truck that she uses to gather food for her soup kitchen.
"The Grinch, or somebody, has taken my wheels. I need that truck. I had picked up over 200 turkeys in it," said Ms. Burtnick, director of the South Baltimore Emergency Relief agency, which is feeding about 700 people for Thanksgiving today.
The dinner is going on as planned at the Parish Hall of Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church on West Street, but only after some inconvenience to Ms. Burtnick. Since her pickup was stolen early Sunday morning, she hasn't been able to get around to all the people willing to donate food.
"The only other vehicle I have is a Winnebago, but it's not paid for," said Ms. Burtnick, who works year-round providing food and other necessities for needy people. "Besides, you can't be riding around town in a Winnebago."
She appealed to whoever took the truck to put it back, in the spirit of holiday giving and in the interest of helping the unfortunate.
"Just bring it back and there'll be no questions asked. Just park it where you found it," said Ms. Burtnick, who added that she also uses the truck for delivering food to disabled people and senior citizens.
The tan 1985 Mazda pickup was stolen sometime between 12:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. Sunday.
It was parked right across the street from Ms. Burtnick's home in the 2900 block of Pulaski Highway in East Baltimore.
At the time it was stolen, the truck had an advertisement in the back window about the turkey dinner at Holy Cross and another sign in the front window saying, "Working in the soup kitchen."
Ms. Burtnick had just had $200 worth of repairs done on the truck and had filled the tank with gasoline in preparation for the busy Thanksgiving week ahead.
But regardless of the theft, Ms. Burtnick said she's expecting today's holiday feast at Holy Cross -- which has sponsored the event for 19 years -- to be a great one. The event has grown from 85 to 700 people in the last 20 years, she said.
"We have music and dancing, and people from all the neighborhoods will be there," said Ms. Burtnick, who has been the director of the South Baltimore Relief Agency for seven years.
"It's a wonderful time. Even though the truck got stolen, I was still determined to get it done, even if I had to crawl around to get food for these people," she said.