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Turlock students singing victory provides for United Samaritans
Felisha Dias, pictured third from left along with her father, Elvis, mother, Maria and United Samaritans Executive Director Beverly Hatcher, was able to provide the organization with 2,700 pounds of Foster Farms chicken thanks to her victory in the Oh Say, Can You Sing? competition. - photo by CANDY PADILLA/The Journal

Thanks to Turlock High School student Felisha Dias and her singing talent, the United Samaritans Foundation on Thursday morning received 2,700 pounds of Foster Farms chicken to help serve the community’s less fortunate.

Sixteen-year-old Dias was selected as the winner of the Foster Farms Bowl “Oh Say, Can You Sing?” contest earlier this month, where she beat out 10 other finalists from the Bay Area and Central Valley. As champion, she was awarded the opportunity to sing the national anthem in front of 70,000 football fans before Wednesday night’s bowl game at Levi’s Stadium.

“It went really well,” said Dias. “Seeing the first level of all the players and the staff and walking onto the field was just a surreal experience…I’m really happy I got to do it.”

Dias first began singing at age seven as part of the children’s choir at her church, Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Turlock. Since then, music and singing have become an integral part of her life. After her performance at the Foster Farms Bowl, the crowd went wild, she said, and she was even allowed to stay on the field for the game’s first few plays.

In addition to receiving the chance to sing at the game, Dias was also able to choose a charity of her choice to be gifted 1,000 meals from Foster Farms. Foster Farms also donated an extra 4,400 meals based on the number of entries this year’s contest received. USF immediately came to mind for Dias, who has worked with the organization before.

“I wasn’t expecting this much food to be presented, but I know it’s going to go to a really good cause and make people just a little bit happier, which makes me a lot happier,” she said.

The United Samaritans Foundation is the largest non-profit direct food distributor to the hungry within Stanislaus County, serving over 30,000 meals a month through its four mobile food trucks which service nine communities throughout the county.

Director Beverly Hatcher expects the Foster Farms donation, consisting of 700 pounds of corndogs and chicken strips and 2,000 pounds of breast and thigh pieces, to provide well over 6,000 meals to those in need.

“We’ve received many great donations…but this is wonderful,” said Hatcher.

Boxes upon boxes of chicken were unloaded by forklift into the USF food bank Thursday morning, and as Dias watched, she couldn’t believe the difference her victory would make in the lives of so many.

“Being able to give back to the community I grew up in is definitely something I wasn’t expecting to do and just being able to use the gifts God gave me in a way to help the community I came from is incredible.”