More than 3,000 families in Modesto and Turlock were expected to receive Christmas food and toys Saturday through programs that help the needy during the holidays.
The Salvation Army Modesto Citadel Corps held its annual holiday food and toy giveaway from a south Modesto warehouse. Maj. Kyle Trimmer said 1,305 families signed up for help. Those families represent more than 5,500 people, including about 2,600 children.
Turlock Together held its annual program at the Turlock Fruit Co., giving out food, toys and clothes to more than 1,750 families.
Turlock Together is a partnership among the city’s churches, nonprofits, schools, service groups and businesses, including The Salvation Army Turlock Corps. Turlock Together expected to help as many as 12,000 people Saturday, said Lissette Maunakea, the Turlock Corps’ social services director.
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Modesto is Stanislaus County’s population center, but it may not be the center for those needing help. Maunakea said more people were helped by Turlock Together than in Modesto because southern Stanislaus County has more poverty, larger families and more farmworkers.
Families received chicken, potatoes, milk, eggs, and assorted canned and boxed food, enough for a Christmas dinner as well as several days of meals.
“I think it’s great that people are willing to help people who are having a hard time,” said Modesto resident Kristina Conaway, a 28-year-old single mother of four. Conaway has a car but no money for gas, so she relied on her best friend to drive her to the Modesto event.
Those who turned out for food and toys in Modesto had to wait several hours, which was significantly longer than in previous years. Trimmer said that’s because the Citadel Corps was not able to rent a warehouse with sufficient parking.
In past years, families parked and then lined up for assistance. But this year, people had to wait in their cars. As they got near the warehouse, volunteers would fill the orders and bring the food and toys in shopping carts to the people waiting in their cars. At one point, the line was more than 2 miles long.
“It’s worth it for my kids,” said Jesse Romero, who after about three hours in his car was about a half mile from the warehouse. “You just have to wait in line. It’s once a year – it’s not like I do this every day.”