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Annual community effort brings Turlock Together
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A Pitman High student helps to sort food by category for Turlock Together on Thursday evening at Turlock Fruit Company.

Locals will notice the slow disappearance of Turlock Together’s hallmark blue barrels at schools and businesses as the collection and sorting of goods has begun and the countdown towards distribution ticks away. 

Turlock Together is a conglomerate of local businesses, churches, nonprofits and organizations which share the aim of providing for the less fortunate during the holiday season. The Salvation Army is the engine of the machine that distributes the blue barrels to participating schools and businesses for the collection of non-perishable food items and new toys. These collections are stored at the Turlock Fruit Company and then sorted through in the weeks preceding Dec. 21, the distribution day for the families that have registered to receive donations. Each family is provided with a box of non-perishable food , a box of perishable food and a toy for each child 10 and younger.

“It really is a community effort to get together and serve our community. There is something special about giving,” said Bob McCune, Turlock Together coordinator.

Thursday evening proved the contagious spirit of giving as 30 students from two of Pitman High School’s student clubs, Future Business Leaders of America and Interact, donated their time to sort food by categories at Turlock Fruit Company. Shawne Arnold, FBLA advisor and business teacher at PHS, uses community service as incentive for the students to be allowed to attend club trips, but according to Arnold the students are very receptive to the idea.

“The students really like it, they ask me what else they can do,” said Arnold, who also brought the students out Tuesday evening to volunteer.

With 100 barrels being sorted at Turlock Fruit Company and 100 still in the community, Turlock Together is beginning to get a good look at their offerings. With donations down from previous years but volunteers up, Turlock Together will still be able to provide for locals in need with only 1,600 families of the 2,000 families possible signed up for the boxes of goods thus far. Hilmar Cheese, Gemperle Farms, Foster Farms and California Dairies Inc. are among several companies that have donated thousands of pounds of food such as butter, cheese and eggs. Any residual goods will be distributed to the local community through the Salvation Army.

Eligible families can sign up until 7 p.m. Friday at the Salvation Army.