'Thankful' Merced families get free turkeys for their Christmas dinner

cwinterfeld@mercedsunstar.comDecember 22, 2013 

— A line filled with hundreds of people stretched out from under the Merced County Fairgrounds’ grandstand Sunday as turkeys from Hostetler Ranches were given to those in need of holiday assistance.

Standing tall and wearing a 10-gallon cowboy hat, Greg Hostetler of Hostetler Ranches shook hands with everyone who walked out of the gate carrying one of his farm’s 500 turkeys. Hostetler was assisted by volunteers and elected officials from the area, including Merced County Supervisor John Pedrozo and Merced City Councilman Josh Pedrozo.

“The people are really grateful and they’re all really thankful. You can see the gleam in their eye they’re so thankful,” said Hostetler, adding, “It’s the spirit of the holiday and I’ve been lucky over my life, and my wife wanted me to continue this. She was at the forefront of this. She taught me a lot about being charitable.”

Elaine Jackson, who came to receive the gift of a turkey, a bag of almonds and a one-pound block of cheese from Joseph Gallo Farms, said she was “very thankful to the good Lord for this blessing,”

“I really appreciate the community coming together and helping out those of us who can’t have a nice Christmas,” said resident Paulette Wiley. “I really appreciate Mr. Hostetler for coming to this side, helping those, like myself, who can’t get around to all the places where they are giving out stuff. I’m glad Mr. Hostetler did it right here at the fairgrounds.”

Hostetler said putting on the event gives him and all the volunteers a good feeling. “The people that work for our company, they feel good that they work for a company that gives back to the community that’s been good to them. I’ve learned over the years to share your success, because you get out of life what you put into it.”

Sun-Star staff writer Christopher Winterfeldt can be reached at cwinterfeldt@mercedsunstar.com.

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