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Kids put food on wish list, many may not get any this Christmas

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POSTED December 15, 2009 1:38 a.m.

It pains Mike Mallory to know that there are kids out there who have narrowed down their gift wish list to simply food this year and that they may still go without nourishment on Christmas save for perhaps basic macaroni and cheese.

“For some people holiday food (from a food closet) may be the only gift they’ll get on Christmas,” noted Mike Mallory, executive director of the Second Harvest Food Bank.

The Turkeys R Us drive – which has made sure that struggling families for the past 12 years in Manteca, Lathrop, and Ripon did not go without a main holiday course on Christmas – has had $2,100 come in over the weekend. The good news is that when coupled with donations already on hand they can meet the turkey or ham needs of about 550 families.

The bad news is that there are 750 struggling families in need and time is running out.

Mallory notes that the Turkeys R Us effort between Thanksgiving and Christmas is coming close to matching last year’s donations. The problem is that the need is up close to 30 percent for Christmas alone.

The 21 food closets serving the three communities benefitting from the Turkeys R Us donations have told Mallory that many of the holiday requests are from people who have donated to the turkey drive in the past or else who have been barely getting by with cutbacks in hours and are able to keep food on the table but can’t afford a traditional Christmas meal.

Most of the 1,300 households being helped consist of low-income seniors, families where both parents may be working but reduced hours have hit them hard, those who are injured and can’t work, the recently unemployed and single working moms. Less and less of the need are for people who have been long-term recipients of aid. The biggest contributors to the need this year are reduced hour and the fact unemployment has gone up nearly 40 percent since last holiday season in Manteca to just fewer than 14 percent.

Mallory said it may surprise some people to realize that kids are more worried about nourishment at Christmas than they are about toys. It is a trend reflected in Christmas wish lists that the Ray of Hope tries to fill.

Funds are needed by Friday so turkeys and/or hams can be secured and distributed through Second Harvest Food Bank to the 21 food closets in Manteca, Lathrop, and Ripon in time for Christmas.

A number of people take the free turkeys they get for buying a set amount of food at supermarkets during the holidays and donate that to the effort.

Donations (make checks out to Turkeys R Us) can be dropped off at Coldwell Banker Crossroads offices at 319 Main Street near North Street in Manteca or 15810 S. Harlan Road in Lathrop or the Second Harvest Food Bank, 704 E. Industrial Park Drive in Manteca.

If you want to donate a frozen turkey or ham, take it directly to the food bank

For more information contact Crossroads Real Estate at 823-8141 or the food bank at 239-2091.

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