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Local charities see increased demand for food boxes
Volunteers needed for free holiday meal
TGM Thanksgiving volunteers
The Turlock Gospel Mission is once again inviting the community to a free Thanksgiving meal and is hoping volunteers will help make the holiday event possible (Photo contributed).

With less than a week before Thanksgiving, local charities have been giving away food boxes and gearing up for a community dinner event.

The Turlock Salvation Army Corps gave away 300 turkeys and Thanksgiving food boxes this week as part of a special donation package.

According to Capt. Katie Breazeale, the Turlock Corps was given the turkeys and food boxes from the Modesto Salvation Army. What had been planned as a three-day giveaway event, quickly dwindled to a day and a few hours.

“The first day we passed out 280 [food boxes] and then the rest Thursday morning,” said Breazeale.

The Corps knew the donated turkeys and food boxes would go fast and didn’t announce it on social media, but relied on word of mouth.

“We’re definitely seeing an increase [in need],” she said. “A lot of people still haven’t been able to get back on their feet after COVID and the prices going up with inflation.”

The Salvation Army regularly gives out emergency food boxes. Due to the high demand and increased costs in purchasing food items, families are only allowed to receive a food box from the Salvation Army once every three months instead of once a month as had been the policy in previous years.

United Samaritans Foundation also gives out food boxes on a regular basis. This month, food boxes will be distributed from 9 a.m. to noon Nov. 22 and Nov. 29. USF will also be giving away turkeys from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Nov. 22, but individuals or families must sign up ahead of time to receive a turkey. All those wishing to receive a food box or turkey must show a valid ID and proof of address, like a utility bill. USF is located at 220 S. Broadway.

The Turlock Gospel Mission is once again inviting the community to a free Thanksgiving meal and is hoping volunteers will help make the holiday event possible.

The meal will be served at 11:30 a.m., with turkey sandwiches served after as a takeaway meal. There are volunteer opportunities starting Monday with food prep. On Tuesday, volunteers will begin roasting turkeys and bake all the pies. Wednesday is designated as side dish day and finishing up the turkeys. On the holiday, volunteers are need for event setup, meal service and support, clean up and making takeout turkey sandwiches.

TGM is also still in need of some food items.

“This year we’re getting a little bit of slower start on food donations,” said TGM CEO Christian Curby.

The list of items still needed includes: 50 pounds of potatoes, 50 pounds of sweet potatoes, stuffing, French cut green beans, Cream of Mushroom soup, cranberry sauce, chicken broth, milk, sliced bread, cream, sugar, brown sugar, butter, Ziplock sandwich bags, paper or foam hot cups both 8 oz and 12 oz, large holiday disposable plates, coffee, hot cocoa mix and bottled water.

Food and item donations need to be dropped off to TGM by Tuesday. To sign-up as an event volunteer, call 209-656-1033. TGM is also giving away winter clothing during the dinner event. Coats, hats and glove donations will be accepted through Wednesday. The mission does not need socks, however, because Walnut Elementary School once again donated 1,000 socks through their Sock-tober event.

The mission is seeing an increase the number of families in need of help this time of year.

“We are definitely seeing an uptick in working poor families who are in need of Thanksgiving help and we’re also seeing a lot of families in need of shelter support because of evictions,” Curby said.

The gospel mission is located at 432 S. Broadway.

The annual community-wide Christmas charity, Turlock Together, is also seeking volunteers and donations. The iconic blue barrels will be making their way into businesses and organizations around town for residents to donate new toys and nonperishable food items. The food toys will be sorted and then distributed to families in need on Dec. 17.

Local families in need have until Nov. 30 to sign-up to receive a holiday food box and toys for children ages 10 and under. Sign-ups are at the Turlock Salvation Army office from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 3 pm. Monday through Friday. Those signing up must bring a picture ID, proof of address and medical cards with birth date or birth certificates for all kids 10 and under.

Community organizations, families, students and individuals are needed to help with sorting toys and food and with the distribution.

To Assist Santa Claus with getting the toys organized, call Manuel Drummond at 209-988-3656. To help with sorting food and boxing it up in the warehouse, call Jeff Lorenzi at 209-620-6608. To assist with distribution on Dec. 17 call Lissette Maunakea at 209-669-5366 x1101.

Turlock Together and Turlock Transit is teaming up to ‘Stuff the Bus’ full of toys on Dec. 9. Donations of new, unwrapped toys, games and sports equipment will be collected from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 9 at the Roger K. Fall Transit Center on the corner of W. Hawkeye Avenue and N. Golden State Boulevard. All toys will be donated to Turlock Together.