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Lathrop Chamber delivers turkeys for needy families
Congressman Jerry McNerney lets out a laugh while a group of kids at the Lathrop Boys and Girls Club feel how cold a frozen turkey is. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

LATHROP – When it comes to giving thanks and charitable donations during the holidays, Congressman Jerry McNerney will see just about all types and all flavors .

But on Monday afternoon at the Lathrop Boys and Girls Club, he got the unique opportunity to see kids – who would eventually be sent home with a full Thanksgiving dinner – at play just like it was a normal day.

Sure there were some boxes covering one of the tables and a member of the United States House of Representatives floating around, but aside from that, kids like Justin Alvarez just wanted to play some bumper pool.

McNerney could commiserate. With a staffer holding his hat, the man with the Ph. D. in Mathematics took the time to listen to the stories of a few of the club’s members and shared some of his own.

And when he laughed, the man laughed – the sort of laugh you’d expect from somebody who was elected to Congress in 2007, told every other year that he was a “target” and was “beatable” and yet managed to win election after election. A laugh of comfort, and maybe even a laugh of care.

“People are very generous this time of the year, and they want to help and one of the ways that they can do that is by feeding a family a nice meal,” he said. “It’s great that there are groups out there that are able to put these together.

“But in San Joaquin County we have homelessness and we have hunger, and there’s always a need when you’re going to have those two things in combination. I think that the Chamber and what they’ve accomplished here is proof that work is being done in that regard.”

And while there were several big contributors that helped the Lathrop District Chamber of Commerce get the funding required to distribute the meals to local students, chamber board members were heavily involved in planning the event as a way to showcase their dedication to the youth of the community.

Max Vargas, who spends his days working as a representative for California Senator Cathleen Galgiani, said that the work that the board has done represents an investment into the next group of entrepreneurs and local business leaders.

“The chamber does a lot with economic development, and really there’s no better place to make an investment than into these types of programs,” Vargas said. “We have a youth chamber and other programs and we recognize that the youth of the community are the best investment that we can make.”

California Natural Products and Antonini’s Freight were two of the main sponsors that made Monday’s giveaway possible. Daniel Nieves and Global Communication Solutions donated turkeys as well.