Dec 16, 2020
DaVita Labs Brings Holiday Cheer & Turkey Donations to Florida Nonprofits
DaVita Labs teammates pack turkeys to be donated
DaVita Labs teammates pack turkeys to be donated

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended holiday celebrations around the world. DaVita Labs’ annual Thanksgiving teammate lunch was no exception. But instead of canceling the event all together, teammates decided to put their hands to work for the community and have a little fun, too.


Located in DeLand, Fla., DaVita Labs has been part of the east-central Florida community for more than two decades. From its campus, this diagnostic laboratory processes more than 62 million laboratory tests each year, serving DaVita dialysis centers and patients nationwide.


Traditionally, DaVita Labs’ Thanksgiving celebration brings 500 teammates together. When it became clear that it would be impossible to safely convene and socially distance, the lab’s leaders came up with a twist: frozen turkeys would be given to every teammate ahead of the holiday. Teammates could keep their turkey, donate it to someone else, or donate a turkey to a local organization serving Volusia County residents in need.


“We knew that we just couldn’t celebrate Thanksgiving the way we typically do,” said Keri Wagner, vice president of DaVita Labs. “At the same time, there’s overwhelming need for the support our local nonprofits provide. One way we could lend a hand was through this special donation.”


Acts of Thanksgiving kindness were on full display as DaVita Labs teammates decided where to direct their turkeys.


For teammate, Tiffani Finney, the choice was easy. She’d keep her turkey and cook dinner with all the trimmings for her neighbors, a police officer and nursing student whose home had been damaged in a fire on July 4. After months, the family was finally able to return home the week of Thanksgiving but had no dinner plans.


Other teammates brainstormed and selected four organizations to receive donated turkeys:


On Nov. 18, 2020, representatives from the organizations pulled up to DaVita Labs to pick up their donations. In total, 100 turkeys were distributed.  


“Our neighbors are hurting,” said Waylan Niece, director of operations for the Neighborhood Center of West Volusia, which received 35 turkeys. “But in the midst of so many challenges, people are still thinking of others. The turkeys from DaVita Labs brought a little bit of normalcy for our families who were able to have a true Thanksgiving dinner.”


In spirited DaVita Labs fashion, teammates handed out the turkeys wearing their Thanksgiving best – turkey hats and full turkey costumes were all around. A teammate dressed as a bright orange traffic cone was even spotted helping direct people in line.


“Everyone should be able to enjoy a hot meal and a turkey on Thanksgiving,” emphasized Wagner. “We’re proud to have made the holiday a little brighter for hundreds of Floridians.”