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Helping Hands Needed Now To Bring Holiday Food, Hope

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Sonora, CA – With Thanksgiving and the winter holidays on the way, local nonprofits are sharing details of activities to benefit the less fortunate and ways to support them.

This Saturday, Nov. 16 and again on Saturday Nov. 23, Amador Tuolumne Community Action Agency (ATCAA) Food Bank is staging its 3rd Annual Turkey Drive, when folks can drop off a frozen bird or make a monetary donation ATCAA volunteers will then tap to purchase trimmings and treats for Thanksgiving baskets that will be provided to eligible families. ATCAA officials stress that many retired and working families in Tuolumne County do not have the means to afford a holiday meal, citing the persisting lack of affordable housing, and increasing costs of fuel, medicine, and other necessities.

The Turkey Drive collection hours both days are from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Timberhills Shopping Center near SaveMart. Diestel Turkey Ranch has generously offered to match every turkey or donation toward a turkey between 11 a.m. and noon on both days of the drive. Monetary donations made in person at the drive or online during match times will be counted in the Diestel match. ATCAA Food Bank staff hope to supply a turkey to any family struggling with hunger and asks the community to help meet the demand with a frozen turkey or monetary donation.

Volunteers are also needed to help ATCAA assemble holiday baskets for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Those interested in lending a hand with that should call 209 984-3960 for more information.

As far as Thanksgiving goes for Calaveras County’ residents, The Resource Connection Food Bank in San Andreas emphasizes that it continues to need and welcome all kinds of food items all year, preferably in plastic but they will also accept those in glass, as long as donors specify where they are in drop-off bundles for safe handling. Food donations are generally accepted daily from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Food Bank Director Tina Mather explains, “We are not just trying to feed people for the holidays, we are trying to feed them all year long.” Specifically for Thanksgiving, the Food Bank is already providing an extra bag to each family with their November allotment that contains all the components for a holiday meal except the turkey.

Key Details For ATCAA’s Adopt-A-Family, YES Partnership Fundraiser

The Adopt-A-Family program is back to bring cheer and comfort in the spirit of the Yuletide season. ATCAA Housing Department and Homeless Shelter staff and volunteers, who are spearheading the effort, are looking for individuals, families, businesses, and groups to sponsor Tuolumne County families who wish to be adopted.

The deadline to be matched with a family in need or to determine if your family is eligible to be adopted is coming up quickly on Saturday, Nov. 23 (yes, the Saturday before Thanksgiving).

How it works is that ATCAA volunteers match donors to a family and provide ages and other details to help folks shop for them. Donors will then be provided with a date, place and time to drop off the gifts. Call the shelter at 209 684-8698 weekdays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. for more details.

Sunday, Dec. 6 is when ATCAA’s YES Partnership’s Annual Holiday Luncheon is being held at Black Oak Casino’s Hotel Conference Room from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. with proceeds from ticket sales, raffle and silent and live auctions supporting local youth and Tuolumne County families.

For ways to donate, volunteer or register for activities listed above, click here.

An SOS For Calaveras County’s Santa Express

Signups are in progress for individuals and families interested in receiving all the makings for Christmas dinner including a turkey, along with toys for the kids as part of the Resource Connection’s annual Santa Express food and toy drive for Calaveras County residents.

“We need help — we cannot do it ourselves — and there are only a couple of us here — so without the community’s involvement, this event cannot possibly take place,” Mather readily admits. She says anyone interested in contributing time and talents, food, and or financial support is welcome.

“The need keeps growing,” she continues. “This time of the year are you not only trying to provide for your household in general, and children if you have them, some industries are laying people off because of seasonal work — and it’s layoff time….every year we think the numbers will be going down because things are looking up and it turns out not to be the case.”

The deadline for folks to submit eligibility paperwork is Wednesday, Dec. 4 so that there is time to get a headcount and participants’ details. “Call the office at 209 754-1257 with any questions and to make sure you bring in everything you need to sign up,” Mather advises. Applications must be made in person at the food bank (206 George Reed Dr.) in San Andreas during office hours, which are Monday through Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.

Mather confides that this year, due to over-stretched staffing conditions, the office will be closed the entire Thanksgiving Week (Nov. 25-29) instead of just Thanksgiving Day and the Friday after. So there will be no signups available over the period. “We have never done it before, but we are to the point of exhaustion here,” says, ruefully noting the need for a break ahead of the December activities.

Toys for Tots, Other Donations

New, unwrapped Santa’s Express toy donations can be brought to the food bank, where the Toys for Tots Coordinator Richard Peters can often be found volunteering. He can also be reached at 209 584-4986 or at the 754-1257 food bank number.

As for gift suggestions, Mather offers, “Bikes are wonderful, but we will take any toy for babies and youths from birth to 17. For the older kids, a $20 gift card from accessible stores like Amazon or Walmart works really well.”

Since it is such a busy time of year, Mather says that if folks who want to volunteer are not able to commit to any of the times listed on the Calaveras County Resource Connection Food Bank’s Facebook page, call the office. “Or just come down and help day to day — we need help every day.”

She adds, “I have to say too, that financial support is really important. It’s easier to store and…we know for sure that if there is a shortcoming, we have the resources to go ahead, spring into action and take care of it.”

For more details on how to help out the Resource Connection Food Bank, click here.