The iconic blue barrels popping up all over town can only mean one thing: Turlock Together, an annual fundraising effort for families in need, has officially begun.
As a voluntary cooperation of ministries, businesses, non-profits, schools, service clubs and community members, Turlock Together was established approximately two decades ago in an effort to serve as many families in the community as possible.
“We decided to work together in unity to avoid duplication,” said Salvation Army Social Services Director and Turlock Together Coordinator Lissette Maunakea. “In the past there were a lot of agencies and churches doing fundraisers and the same families would utilize all of them. We decided to merge and do it together, which gives us the chance to serve more families.”
Maunakea said community members can drop off their donations before Dec. 16 in one of the many blue barrels dispersed throughout town, as well as Turlock fire stations, City Hall, the Salvation Army and many schools and churches. Community members are encouraged to provide unwrapped toys, non-perishable food items or monetary donations.
There will also be the Can Tree Breakfast and Auction at 7 a.m. on Dec. 2 at the War Memorial. Tickets are $5 at the door and Maunakea said that all the money raised during the event will go towards purchasing items for Turlock Together.
Each family will receive two boxes of food, one with perishable food items and another with non-perishable food items. The perishable food box includes items such as chicken, cheese, milk, eggs, tortillas, bread, sweet potatoes, russet potatoes and fresh fruit when available. The non-perishable box contains items such as flour, sugar, oil, peanut butter, corn, green beans, tomato sauce, canned fruit, tuna, spaghetti, rice and pinto beans.
Additionally, Turlock Together will give one large toy to each child along with a smaller toy and stuffed animal. Each family will receive a board game, a ball, coloring books and crayons. Bikes are a popularly donated item, however, there is always a need for more helmets.
Qualified families who are interested in registering for a donation can do so at the Salvation Army from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Nov. 30 to Dec. 11. At the time of registration, families are required to provide address verification, income verification, and verification of all family members.
Distribution of items will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 19. Maunakea said that the effort hopes to serve approximately 2,000 families this year.
“I think it’s important to help those who are in need, especially during this time,” said Maunakea. “Families are struggling right now to make ends meet as the cost of living goes up and the cost of food goes up, yet their pay stays the same.
“We want to give back and help those who could use a little boost to ensure that everyone has a wonderful Christmas season,” continued Maunakea.
For more information, visit turlocktogether.org.