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University students give back through work at Turlock Family Network
CS-TFN Diaper Drive pic
CSU Stanislaus Communications students Sonia Tinoco, Elvia Ramirez, Alfonso Moran and Louise Thao add a few donations to their diaper drive for the Turlock Family Network. - photo by KRISTINA HACKER / The Journal

Families with young children struggling to make ends meet can receive assistance paying for housing and food through different welfare programs, but there remains one need that can only be met through donations.

"For people who are extremely low-income, diapers are the one thing they can't get elsewhere," said Turlock Family Network director Beverly Spielman.

The Turlock Family Network is a private non-profit that offers parenting classes and in-home mentoring to local families, free of charge. The organization currently serves 91 families and about 64 children, and gives out between 40 to 500 diapers a month to those in need.

"Right now, it's the biggest need," Spielman said.

A group of communications students from California State University, Stanislaus saw this need and decided to do something about it. The students started a Diaper Drive this week that will run through the end of November.

"I know personally what it's like for people to have a hard time getting the money to buy diapers," said CSU Stanislaus student Sonia Tinoco.

There are Diaper Drive collection boxes in the TFN and Turlock Salvation Army Social Services offices, both located at 893 Lander Ave., and at Sam's Food City, 125 S. El Circulo Ave., in Patterson. The students are collecting diapers of every size, but according to Spielman, the greatest need is for newborn and sizes 3, 4 and 5. Opened and partial packages of diapers will also be accepted. For more information on the Diaper Drive, call Sonia at 484-9192.

The Diaper Drive is just one way that students from Cal State Stanislaus are serving families and children in need through the Turlock Family Network, said Spielman. The organization has year-round social services and class facilitator interns, and many groups that come in at different times of the year to hold special events.

"We've been really blessed by the support by the interns from the university. It's been a really good connection with the college," Spielman said.

In December, three different groups of communications students will volunteer their time to host a Christmas party for TFN's families, and a sorority is holding a toy drive to provide each child an age-appropriate present at the event.

While the students are supplying the manpower and gifts, there is still a need for food items for the dinner, said Spielman. Turkeys, hams, vegetables, potatoes, salad, dinner rolls, and dessert are all needed to feed an expected 200 guests. Items can be dropped off at the Turlock Family Network office anytime before Dec. 19.

TFN is also looking for community members who would like to adopt a family for Christmas. Those interested will be given wish lists and information for specific families, such as a single mother with children, a teen mother expecting her first baby, or a grandparent raising a child.  For more information on adopting a family for Christmas, call 668-3363.