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Local food program serves 8,000 this holiday season
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Turlock Together volunteer Diane Jimenez looks at paperwork to make sure the correct family is receiving toys matched appropriately for their need. - photo by JONATHAN MCCORKELL / The Journal

More than 2,000 low-income local families will not have to worry about food for the holiday season thanks to the generosity of the community and Turlock Together program. 

Hundreds of volunteers from area organizations donated their time and good will Tuesday during the holiday food giveaway held at the Turlock Fruit Company. Families received enough perishable and boxed food to last two weeks and about 6,000 toys were given to needy children.

The food supplies included a whole frozen chicken, cheese, potatoes, milk, butter, eggs, tortillas, rice, flour, cereal, beans, cooking oil, macaroni, soup and spaghetti. The food is intended to last an average family of four for two weeks — just enough to cover food expenses over the holiday break from school.

Armies of volunteers helped to box, organize and distribute the food to needy families. E & J Gallo Winery helped the cause with a group of about 60 volunteers.

“Volunteering is one of the core values of our organization. We feel that it is important to give back to the community and we are excited to have the opportunity to be here,” said Gallo Public Relations Manager Loree Stroup.

The Jimenez family of Turlock was also among the volunteers. Diane Jimenez said her family has donated time every holiday season for the past 12 years.

“It’s about seeing the kids and watching their faces when they get a new toy or bicycle. It really makes you feel good,” she said.

Turlock Together is a partnership between assistance and community organizations, business, schools and churches. One of the original founders, Linda Murphy-Lopes noted the multiple organizations that work to make the food available, including the Turlock Fruit Company.

“They donate the facility and forklift for several weeks every year. If we didn’t have this all of this would be impossible. Seeing all this happen makes my Christmas and this has been a hard Christmas for me to make it here but when I get here and see all the work being done I know there is a reason why we do what we do here,” she said.

Salvation Army Turlock Major Debi Shrum said it is too early to tell if need has increased this year. The number of families that registered for food and toy baskets remained the same as in the past few years, however the Christmas Day dinner at the Salvation Army is typically a good determination of how much need there is. No matter the need the Turlock community has always responded. Shrum explained that each year excess food from the giveaway is taken to the Salvation Army and it usually lasts several months.

To contact Jonathan McCorkell, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.