It’s not uncommon to see Turlockers reach deep into their pockets during the holiday season, eager to give back to those in need. The city’s local base of real estate agents is no exception, coming together annually for the past 37 years to host their Christmas CanTree Breakfast — a morning filled with food and charity that reinforces the giving spirit synonymous with the Turlock community.
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 in support of the cause. The CanTree breakfast is just one way that the three organizations are able to provide local low-income families with food baskets to enjoy.
CanTree committee members Sheri Yagi, Joanne Perez, Lorraine Serpa and LeeAnn Bettencourt have been hard at work planning the annual event, which last year raised over $30,000.
“Turlock is very giving, and it’s people who we approach again and again year after year,” Bettencourt said. “They’re always still right there for us.”
The gourmet breakfast buffet and mimosas at this year’s fundraiser will give both real estate agents and community members the opportunity to network over a delicious meal, as well as the chance to grab highly-coveted items during both a silent and live auction. Attendees will even have the chance to bid on expertly-decorated Christmas trees designed by those with a flair for holiday cheer — a tradition Yagi and Bettencourt began last year.
This year’s breakfast will raise funds 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. 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. Turlock’s CanTree in the past has made sure to give $1,000 scholarships to both Pitman and Turlock high schools, and the event’s success last year allowed the committee to add four more schools to the list.
“I’ve always found that Turlock is very generous, and sometimes you can ask for something and they end up giving you more than what you thought. We’re such a close-knit community,” Yagi said. “I think that’s why this town is so successful — as a community we give to each other and support each other. We’re a big town, but we’re a small town in that way.”
This year’s breakfast is still accepting both auction items and sponsors. Those interested in donating items for auction or would like to sponsor the event ($1,000, $500 and $250 sponsorships are still available) can contact Bettencourt at 209-450-8543 or 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, though Yagi warned the event is already close to selling out. Attendees are also encouraged to bring non-perishable food items for donation.
“I hope as it grows, it becomes not just a Realtor event and we see more of the community,” Yagi said. “The more money we raise, the more money goes back to the community.”
The Christmas CanTree Breakfast will open its doors at 7:30 a.m. Dec. 4 at the Larsa Banquet Hall, 2107 E. Monte Vista Ave.