For 36 years, the Turlock Christmas CanTree Project has reinforced the giving spirit synonymous with not only the holiday season, but with the Turlock community as a whole, contributing to the city’s efforts of making a difference in the lives of those who have less through its annual breakfast fundraiser.
Every December, CanTree joins Turlock Together and the Salvation Army in the fight against holiday hunger, with the Turlock branch of the Central Valley Association of Realtors volunteering their time to raise funds to help support the cause. The CanTree breakfast is just one way that the three organizations are able to provide low-income families with food baskets to enjoy.
“Anytime there’s a fundraiser, the Turlock community is always generous,” CanTree co-chair Sheri Yagi said. “The event started years ago, and I think it’s grown in different ways.”
For the first time, the CanTree breakfast fundraiser will be held at Larza Banquet Hall this year. A gourmet breakfast buffet will give both real estate agents and community members the opportunity to network, as well as take part in both a silent and live auction, and attendees will even have the chance to bid on expertly-decorated Christmas trees designed by those with a flair for holiday cheer.
“Even though it’s put on by realtors, we want this to be a community event where everyone comes together,” Yagi said.
This year’s breakfast will raise funds for food baskets to feed a family of four for up to two weeks, and are meant to provide extra help for families who have children out of school for Christmas vacation.
“The local schools provide hot lunch and breakfast for kids at school, but during the holidays there’s no school so these baskets help during that time,” Yagi said. “The funds raised help us purchase about 70 percent of the food items that go into the baskets.”
The Salvation Army identifies families in need of the baskets, which are then distributed by Turlock Together. In years past, Turlock Together has distributed between 1,500 and 2,000 food baskets annually, and the CanTree breakfast typically raises about $15,000 thanks in part to an annual donation from Off Center Thrift & Gift.
For comparison, breakfasts hosted by realtors in other towns normally bring in around $3,000 to $5,000.
This year’s breakfast is still accepting both auction items and sponsors. Those interested in donating items for auction can contact LeAnn Bettencourt at 209-450-8543, and those who would like to sponsor the event ($3,000, $1,000, $500 and $250 sponsorships are available) can contact Yagi at 209-605-3102. Tickets to the event are $10 and may be purchased by contacting Yagi, or at the door on the day of the event, and attendees are also encouraged to bring non-perishable food items for donation.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Yagi said.
The CanTree breakfast will open its doors at 7:30 a.m. Dec. 5 at the Larza Banquet Hall, 2107 E. Monte Vista Ave. in Denair.