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Turlock Together seeks collection sites, volunteers
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While pumpkins, ghosts and scarecrows have been popping up around town in preparation for the spookiest holiday of the year, one nonprofit organization is already preparing for Christmas and the season of giving.

Turlock Together, an alliance of ministries, nonprofits, schools, charitable groups and service clubs, is gearing up for another year of providing 2,000 local families food and toys for Christmas.

The annual project takes the support and efforts of “several hundred” volunteers, said Turlock Together coordinator Lissette Maunakea. While the hours and hours of sorting and packing are still a month away, the group is in need of places to put collection barrels right now.

Most of the food and toys given to families through Turlock Together is gathered by people donating items in the traditional blue barrels around town.

“We have had five businesses call to get barrels, so far, but we need a whole lot more — at least 200 barrels or more out there,” Maunakea said.

Volunteers from Turlock Together will deliver the barrels and then pick them up when filled. All the businesses need to do is agree to have the barrels located in their offices, she said.

Once barrels are in place, Turlock Together organizers are hoping the entire community will find it in their hearts and wallets to give nonperishable food items and new toys for those who are in need this holiday season.

“One of the big needs this year is tuna because the price went up,” Maunakea said.

Along with a large box of food, including a turkey, families get to pick out a toy for each child under the age of 12.

“We give away over 10,000 toys to children 12 and under. We will probably give away more this year because the need is greater,” Maunakea said.

Once the donations start coming in, then armies of elves — or local volunteers — are needed to sort the hundreds of nonperishable goods and toys at the Turlock Fruit Company.

Turlock Together is asking for volunteers to sign up as soon as possible to help out with the project. To get blue collection barrels at your place of business or to volunteer for sorting and packing, call Lissette Maunakea between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at 669-5366 ext. 101.

To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.