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Food, gift program taking applicants
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 The team of non-profit organizations that comprise Turlock Together are hard at work collecting food and other items for their annual Christmas give-away. More families than ever are in need of assistance with record-setting unemployment rates soaring in Stanislaus County. Families in need of a Christmas meal or toys for the kids can sign up between now and Dec. 9 to receive a basket from Turlock Together.

Recipients of Turlock Together food baskets range from out of work parents with children to elderly Turlock residents on a fixed income. Linda Murphy-Lopes, a founder of Turlock Together, said each food basket weighs between 40 and 60 pounds.  The food will feed a family not just for Christmas, but hopefully through the holiday break.

“Students who normally get free lunch and sometimes free breakfast from school will be at home for two weeks. This is set up for families to walk away with a substantial amount of food,” Murphy-Lopes said.

Volunteers will be processing applications at the Salvation Army Corps Community Center on Lander Avenue. Major Debi Shrum said many people in need of food baskets already receive services at the Salvation Army, so the location was chosen for Turlock Together signups.

“We see a lot of people rushing to sign up on the first day. We will have enough food, and we are seeing families until Dec. 9,” Shrum said.

Families can also sign up to receive toys for children under age 12 from Toys for Tots by filling out a Turlock Together application. Shrum and Murphy-Lopes both described the application process as private, and encouraged anyone who needs help with groceries or gifts for their children to sign up for the service.

“We do ask for income verification, but if you think you might need this then please fill out the application,” Murphy-Lopes said.

Shrum said the application process is private and that information about recipients is never shared outside of Turlock Together. She said everyone goes through rough times once in a while and Turlock Together is there to help.

“A lot of people need help, get help, and move on. Our main goal is to get people started and get them back on their feet,” Shrum said.

The Salvation Army Corps Community Center is located at 893 Lander Ave. Turlock Together volunteers will be meeting with families from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. now through Dec. 9. Families are asked to bring some form of income verification.  For more information on receiving a Christmas food basket or gifts for children, call 669-5366.

To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.