It’s the time of year when area nonprofits such as the Merced Rescue Mission and Merced County Food Bank look for extra help to feed the less fortunate during the holidays.
“At this time of year, it’s always kind of an anxious time because we’re sitting here next to an empty freezer,” said Bruce Metcalf, executive director of the mission. “(We’re) needing a lot of turkeys, and wondering if they’re going to come in, because it’s all strictly donations.”
Every year, the Merced Rescue Mission feeds more than 2,000 during its free Thanksgiving meal and passes out more than 700 food boxes to needy families through several other organizations.
The mission needs about 1,200 turkeys to make that happen, but only has seven frozen birds as of Tuesday. Metcalf said the mission also needs food donations of all types to complete the traditional holiday meal.
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“There’s a lot of people that are so generous, and they’ll bring them and we’re so grateful,” Metcalf said of the donations. “We need to get the word out and remind people that we really need (their) help.”
Putting the holiday meal together is always a community effort, Metcalf said. In the same vein, he said, the mission needs about 120 volunteers to make and serve the food on Thanksgiving Day.
The mission also accepts used clothes and toys.
The Merced County Food Bank, which sells its food at a discount to other organizations who feed the hungry, is also seeking donations. Executive Director Bernadette Mello said the food bank is out of turkeys it could sell to nonprofits.
“We are in desperate need of food right now,” she said.
The food bank sells its goods at 19 cents per pound to qualified organizations. Mello said her food bank is a go-to provider for 123 organizations across Merced and Mariposa counties.
Mello said monetary donations are preferred, because her organization can purchase goods at a discount from other food banks. “We can make a dollar go four times or five times more than anybody else can,” she said.
The bank also accepts donations of anything traditionally found in holiday fare, such as pie shells, stuffing, cranberry sauce, turkeys, turkey pans and the like.
“There is so much need in our community, but there is so much greatness and generosity,” she said, adding that area nonprofits lean on one another. “We’re definitely stronger together.”