For the past 32 years, local Realtors and their affiliates have held a Can Tree Breakfast in an effort to raise money to feed hungry families during the holidays. Although the literal Christmas tree-shaped pyramid of canned food — that some years reached as high as 25 feet — no longer adorns the entrance to the long-since closed Albertsons grocery store, the spirit of giving has remained strong.
In 2013, members of the local Central Valley Association of Realtors affiliate gave $15,000 to Turlock Together to purchase items for food boxes given to families in need. Turlock Together is a community-wide effort to provide food and toys to 2,000 local families. The food boxes are distributed in the third week of December each year just before students go on winter break, a time when families with children used to eating lunch at school may need the additional groceries.
Even though charitable giving has taken a hit during the recent recession and slow Valley recovery, the Realtors have kept going strong with their annual Can Tree Breakfast.
"Us Realtors just won't give up," said Shelly Bell, event chairperson for the past three years.
The annual event is an all-volunteer effort, with Realtors and affiliates cooking and serving a full breakfast for close to 250 people at the War Memorial Building, followed by a live auction. Throughout the morning event there is a silent auction and different raffle opportunities, including a half carat diamond pendant donated by Geiger's Jewelers and a card cut raffle.
The most popular live auction items in previous years have been the timeshare trips, said Bell, and this year a signed and framed Colin Kaepernick jersey will be up for the bidding.
Santa and Mrs. Claus will also be making an appearance to ramp up the Christmas spirit.
The Can Tree Breakfast will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. Dec. 3 at the War Memorial, 247 E. Canal Dr. in Turlock. Tickets are $5 each and can be purchased at CanTree.org or by calling 858-1700. Auction items are still needed. To donate an item, contact Shelly Bell at 485-2919 or shelly@BellRES.com.
"We're just looking for some community support," said Bell.