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Shes hoping to collect 1,000 cans of food
Taela Heath stacks canned goods that were donated during her drive at the Manteca Farmer’s Market. She’ll have a booth set up every week through Aug. 31 on Tuesday evenings with the hope of reaching 1,000 cans. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL
Taela Heath doesn’t mind the occasional summer heat wave, or the monotony of waiting for the community to realize what she’s doing at the Manteca Convention and Visitors Bureau Farmers Market every Tuesday night.

She knows that her work – collecting canned goods for needy families – is worth every bit of work that she has to put in to reach the goal of 1,000 cans.

As the current Miss Junior Manteca, Heath performed for the families at the HOPE Family Shelter, and came across some of her own classmates that were struggling to fill the cupboards in their own homes – sparking the idea in her mind that she might be able to do something to help.

“At the time I felt really bad knowing that they didn’t have any food and were having to go to bed hungry,” Heath said. “I had done a food drive in front of Raley’s before, and I thought that this would be a good way to get the word out to the community that there are people out there that are hungry.

“Everybody seems to focus on the holidays – Thanksgiving and Christmas – but there is always the rest of the year and some people struggle with making that.”

On every Tuesday during the Farmer’s Market, Heath – the daughter of CVB Events Director John Heath – will have her booth complete with a presentation blackboard that shows her exploits in trying to raise canned food for those who need.

Complete with her Miss Junior Manteca crown, Heath was more than cordial to those who stopped by with plastic bags full of cans that will eventually make it into the homes of those who can use them the most – bringing a smile to her face that she and the community had just helped out a family in need.

And for the next month, Heath will staff that booth every Tuesday night as she strives to reach the 1,000 can mark – hoping that the remaining four events will put her over the top.

After a visit to the Second Harvest Food Bank, Heath learned that the biggest shortage of food throughout the year is canned vegetables, and hopes that those in the community can come through with what it is that people actually need.

“Initially I was surprised that some of the people that I knew from school had it so hard and had to worry about where they were going to get food,” Heath said. “Hopefully this drive will make it a little bit easier, and raise awareness that hunger is something that affects all people.”

The Manteca Farmers Market will run every Tuesday through August 31, and takes place at Library Park from 4 to 7 p.m.