By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Annual Christmas fundraiser gets creative to give back during pandemic
For nearly 40 years, the city’s local base of real estate agents has come together to host their annual breakfast that benefits Turlock families who are most in need. Rather than cancel the event because of the coronavirus pandemic, the typical morning filled with food and charity will look a bit different this year — but still reinforce the spirit of giving.

This year, the Turlock branch of the Central Valley Association of Realtors put their heads together to make sure they could host their annual CanTree event in a safe manner. Instead of hosting an indoor breakfast with the rising sun as was the norm in years past, the event will be held “Under the Stars.” Christmas CanTree Under the Stars will feature an outdoor, drive-in movie, tri-tip dinner and auctions in a fun-filled evening that seeks to help Turlock Together and the Turlock Salvation Army fight holiday hunger.

“The thing with CanTree is that you just can’t cancel it because it helps feed so many families,” CanTree committee member Sheri Yagi said. “For us, cancelling wasn’t an option.”

In years past, the CanTree event has raised an upwards of $30,000, which helps pay for food baskets able to feed a family of four for up to two weeks. The extra food during the holiday is meant to provide help for families who have children out of school for Christmas vacation.

The Salvation Army identifies families in need of the baskets, which are then distributed by Turlock Together. Turlock Together usually distributes between 1,500 and 2,000 food baskets annually, and the CanTree event has also raised money for scholarships given to local high school students.

During these hard times, Yagi believes the event is more important now than ever.

“With COVID, it’s changed the way we do things so much and there’s probably a bigger need than ever this year,” she said. “I think instead of just saying, ‘Okay, well we’re just gonna cancel this event,’ there’s always a way to come up with a way to help.”

Those who purchase tickets to Christmas CanTree Under the Stars will be treated to a tri-tip dinner beginning at 5 p.m. Dec. 2 at the Go Drive-Up theater in Turlock. As they eat, guests can bid on several silent auction items or take place in a live auction, both of which will last until 6:30 p.m. Then, the drive-in theater will play a showing of the 1994 holiday classic, “The Santa Clause.”

Tickets to Christmas CanTree Under the Stars can be purchased for $20 by contacting Yagi at 209-605-3102 or, or Joanne Perez at 209-480-0927 or Sponsorship opportunities are also still available; to purchase or for more information contact LeeAnn Bettencourt at 209-450-8543 or, or Lorraine Serpa at 209-648-1154 or