Sonora, CA — With the winter holidays almost here opportunities abound to lend a hand or donate towards food and toy collections that will benefit the Mother Lode’s struggling families.
Amador-Tuolumne Community Action Agency (ATCAA) and The Resource Connection Food Bank in Calaveras County are busily organizing several seasonal activities, some of which registration is still possible for individuals or families in need, so spread that word. (The Resource Connection also has a signup deadline of next Wednesday, detailed further below.)
As reported here, ATCAA is again sponsoring its Adopt-A-Family program and Holiday Gift Basket distribution, scheduled for Dec. 9. However, Friday is the last day for signing up to receive the food portion. Call 209 984-3960 ext. 101 to do so. Too, ATCAA’s Energy Department is also able to help income-qualified residents who are struggling with their PG&E or propane bills over the holidays and throughout the year. For more details, click here.
Folks who want to support ATCAA’s efforts through volunteering or donations can click here and navigate to the Food Bank or Events landing pages. Some of the toys being collected at three drives are also being channeled to this program. They are the CAL Fire Toy Drive, whose next event is this Sunday at the Sonora Walmart from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The Back Country Horsemen will also be collecting them during their Dec. 9 parade in Columbia from 10 a.m. until noon. JW West Propane is additionally accepting toys and children’s clothing items now through Dec. 10 at its main office at 564 W. Stockton St. If you bring toys to these events they need to be new and unwrapped.
Helping Spread Holiday Cheer In Calaveras County
This Saturday from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. Resource Connection “Stuff the Bus” food drive collections will be going on at Save Mart Supermarket in Angels Camp, Mar Val Foods in Valley Spring and Young’s Payless IGA in Copperopolis, according to Food Bank Director Tina Mather. “We will have shopping lists available for those who would like to make a contribution and we will accept cash or checks for those who would like to donate without shopping,” she adds.
Mather also heads up Santa’s Express, which makes holiday meals and toys a reality for income-qualified families that may not otherwise have them. The program is now cranking into high gear. Individuals and families who are income eligible are still able to sign up through next Wednesday, Dec. 5. Signups are done at the Food Bank (206 George Reed Drive) in San Andreas. Those who have not already brought their 2018 household proof of income to the facility will need to have it in hand. Food Bank hours are 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. weekdays except Thursdays. Anyone with questions should call the office directly at 209 754-1257.
On the gifting end of Santa’s Express, donated new, unwrapped toys are collected to provide gifts for children up to age 17. The parents or legal guardians actually get to go “shopping” with volunteers to pick out the toys for their children at the toy distribution site. This activity is located in close proximity to the holiday meal pickups at the Food Bank. Mather shares that this year, The Resource Connection suddenly found itself without a Marine Corps Toy Drive Coordinator, an issue that will be remedied in the new year, so toy donations are particularly needed.
Supporting Santa’s Express
In the meantime, staff and volunteers are scrambling to get the word out that toys are definitely needed. She is also thankful that local organizations and businesses, including CAL Fire volunteers, who have all assisted in recent years, are again lending a hand.
The California Highway Patrol (CHP) San Andreas Unit just announced that it again this year is teaming up with Santa Express during its CHiPs for Kids Toy Drive. The toys will be given to both disadvantaged and hospitalized children across the county. Collection barrels for new, unwrapped toys are set up until Thursday, Dec. 13 at the following locations: CHP headquarters and Treat’s General Store in San Andreas; Angels Camp Business Association; the CHP/Sheriff’s Substation and Bistro Expresso in Arnold; Young’s Payless Market IGA in Copperopolis; Common Grounds in Valley Springs. Organizers shares that this year, they have a list of 1,500 children from infants to 17 years of age to provide for and hope donations will allow them to gift each with two new toys.
Along with opportunities to donate toys, food or monies, Mather says there are several volunteer openings available to those interested in sharing their time and talents at the food drive, during packing and sorting days (Saturday Dec. 8, and Wednesday Dec. 12), toy sorting and set up (Saturday, Dec. 15) and on the food and toy distribution events (Monday, Dec. 17).
For details, call 209 754-1257 and ask a staff member to sign you up. Registrations are also possible online through The Resource Connection Food Bank Facebook page.