UTICA, N.Y. — It has become a Thanksgiving tradition: each year Oneida County employees sign up to bring in a Thanksgiving item to be added to a basket.

“I’m pleased that my employees plus other members of this floor and the abstract companies, every year we put together baskets – turkey baskets – for the poor,” said Oneida County Clerk Sandy DePerno.

And since the tradition began, it’s grown exponentially.

“It started about 20 years ago under then-County Clerk Sandy Caruso,” DePerno said. “It started out with just one basket, and we’re up to 20 now.”

Those baskets are then taken from the Oneida County Office Building over to St. John’s in Utica to help those in need.

“There’s everything you can think of in that basket for a complete turkey dinner, from the turkey right down to the desserts,” DePerno said. “[The employees] provide everything – the aluminum foil, the pans, everything.”

DePerno said this tradition is something the office looks forward to each year as a way to give back to the community.

“All of us are so fortunate that we have families and that we can afford our own Thanksgiving dinner,” she said. “It’s a great feeling, it really is. It’s heartwarming.”