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Turlock Together seeks volunteers, collection sites
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For 17 years, Turlock Together has embodied “goodwill towards mankind” during the holiday season. The organization's efforts continue this year, as the iconic blue barrels used to collect toys and non-perishable food items for low-income families have already been dispatched around town.

Turlock Together, a voluntary cooperation of businesses, non-profit organizations, schools, and ministries, continues its wish to reach the community at large by asking other residents and business owners to partner with its cause.

Approximately 2,000 low-income families within the Turlock area received relief last year, and were saved from the stress of purchasing, and providing a holiday meal for their family. Hundreds of volunteers donated their time and genuine affection for those in need by distributing large packages of food, and about 6,000 toys for low-income children.

The food, which is intended to last an average family of four for two weeks, provides just enough food rations over an average school break from the holidays. Each year, excess food is stored by the Salvation Army and is kept to last several months to prevent waste.

Salvation Army Major Debi Shrum is proud of their accomplishments, but realizes as time passes, more people need Turlock Together’s services.

“It’s really about Turlock coming together,” Shrum said about the community effort.

In the past year, the Turlock Fruit Company, and E & J Gallo Winery have offered their physical services and direct volunteer participation to help provide a successful drive for hungry applicants, while local businesses, schools, and nonprofits offer to place blue barrels outside their stations to gain attention for the toy drive.

“We want to provide for anyone who wants to come out,” Shrum said. “We are hoping we can get 2,000 families to receive a Christmas meal.”

Despite tough times, and a down economy, Shrum is hopeful for the future.

"People who have a hard time still donate. People in unfortunate circumstances still find a way to help,” Shrum proudly stated about her community.

Last year, the annual toy drive suffered a setback as the number of needy children exceeded the number of toys that were donated. To prevent this from happening this year, Shrum created a “Christmas In July” event earlier this summer to get the toy drive started early, ensuring that the extra time lapse might serve in the children’s favor, and present them the chance for the Christmas they deserve.

To request a donation barrel for your business, or sign-up to help sort and pack food and toys or for information on receiving aid, call Lissette Maunakea at the Salvation Army Turlock at 620-4910.