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Donors make sure 1,300 struggling families will have Christmas dinner
Mike Mallory, right, of Second Harvest Food Bank, delivers 30 turkeys and hams to Jack and Lillian Cushman for the Helping Hands Ministry at Cornerstone Church that is having a Christmas basket food distribution today from 10 a.m. to noon. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Mike Mallory is impressed.

A week ago, the prospect was strong that people would be going without traditional Christmas meals in Manteca, Lathrop, and Ripon.

The executive director of the Second Harvest Food Bank who ultimately oversees distribution of the turkeys and hams purchased by the Turkeys R Us drive knew everyone was struggling in the economy. But he figured with a 30 percent jump in need and the nearly 15 percent unemployment rate that it might be impossible to meet the needs of the 1,300 families that are struggling this year in the three communities.

Mallory on Friday – just hours before the drop dead cut-off to get turkeys and hams ready to distribute to the 21 flood closets serving the three communities – was able to place an order for the final 80 turkeys that averaged 22 pounds apiece.

It was a steady stream of donors since Tuesday who brought in turkeys and small donations that made it possible.

“There were people who are just barely getting by who had some extra money and they wanted to help,” Mallory said.

The dominations – plus those made directly to Cornerstone Church – also means the Helping Hands Ministry that is distributing nearly 200 food baskets today from 10 a.m. to noon at the church’s the northeast corner of East Highway 120 and Comconex Road – will have the turkeys they need for needy families.

Jack Cushman, who oversees the food closet, said he only asked for 150 turkeys although they needed 180 because he knew it was a difficult year for people to donate.

Donate, though, they did. The church got a number of turkeys donated by individuals Friday after it was announced they would be short. Mallory was able to deliver the extra 30 turkeys and hams as well.

That means that one concern that all food closets have – last minute people showing up who are in need – will be able to be taken care of this Christmas.

“There are kids who aren’t asking for gifts this Christmas but are asking for food instead,” Mallory noted.

This marks the 12th consecutive year that the community has made sure those struggling at Christmas and Thanksgiving have a traditional meal for each holiday.

“The people of Manteca are truly amazing,” Mallory said. “They are more than willing to help others. People care.”

Mallory noted that Manteca’s accomplishment of making sure those in the three cities do not go without a turkey is virtually unheard of in communities served across the country by the Second Harvest Food Bank organization.

Manteca has made sure the holiday meals are covered for the less fortunate now for 12 consecutive years.