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Volunteers prepare 4,000 holiday food boxes
turlock together pic1
Local Scouts assemble large cardboard boxes by hand, then slide them down the conveyor chain as part of Turlock Together preparation. Two thousand families are expected to get two boxes apiece next week: one filled with non-perishables, the other with perishables. - photo by BROOKE BORBA / The Journal

Despite a tough economy and thousands of hungry mouths to feed, Turlock Together is right on track to fulfill their 4,000 food box goal this Christmas season thanks to support from area volunteers and supporters.

Turlock Together coordinator Bob McCune has once again started to work late nights with fellow volunteers at the Turlock Fruit Company, and continues to direct their helping hands in an efficient manner.

To avoid cluster and havoc, McCune said that only a certain number of volunteers are needed each night.

“We try to schedule volunteers so that they are not all here at once. We try to keep it not over 40 to 50 per night except for the distribution days. We have over 100 volunteers here both of those days. This afternoon alone, we had 1,800 sign ups as of [Monday] afternoon to participate on distribution days,” he said.

Pitman High junior Angelica Lomeli, and her freshmen brother Juan Lomeli ,said that they have helped out with Turlock Together every year since they were little because they were inspired by their mother’s selfless work as a volunteer years ago.

“My mom, she was in the news a long time ago and was carrying my oldest brother. Since then, we’ve been doing this. Every year we know where to go and we are ready to help,” Angelica said.

McCune has a strong sense of gratitude for the community and their support, and said that people from all walks of life come together to support 2,000 low-income families during the holiday season.

 “We got groups coming in every night, usually a lot of schools, churches, and individuals. Tonight we have all three,” McCune said Monday night. “We also have two Boy Scout troops here.”

The two troops, along with their parents and scout leaders, went to work folding and stacking boxes to line the back wall for distribution purposes.

“They will probably put together a little over 2,000 boxes tonight,” McCune estimated Monday evening.

When scout leader Cliff Bailey saw the number of boxes, he put the whole effort into a larger perspective.

“For me, I really feel thankful that I can be on this end of the project. It is fortunate. It is a special time of the year when things like this are done, and it makes you feel good. Really, a Christmas experience wouldn’t be the same if we weren’t out here doing some of the grunt work,” he said.

Robert Gunn, 15-year-old Life Scout, believes in sharing an experience that most kids take for granted every year. He is proud to be working with his friends and making a contribution to the community.

“It helps the community a lot and helps them celebrate Christmas. What goes around comes around. It can be heartwarming. I’ll be tired, but at least this is something right,” Gunn said.

To volunteer, or to donate food or toys, contact Bob McCune at 678-5333 or visit