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Feeding Families, Sharing Bounty This Christmas
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Although the food giveaway at St. Frances of Rome Church started off quite slowly the volunteers were all smiles waiting patiently for those in need to pick up some food. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

The annual holiday Food Distribution occurred this past Friday at the St. Frances of Rome Church Hall, bringing food to 187 families and approximately 520 people for Christmas. Although Riverbank Christian Food Sharing and St. Vincent de Paul have been providing food for Christmas and throughout the year, for the past five years they combined forces with other organizations forming Riverbank Cares to continue the tradition. The food giveaway has been held at the Riverbank Community Center in past years and moved to the church this year due to renovations planned at the center.

People trickled in from 10 a.m. until noon. Some seniors register to get the food delivered to them and this year there were 50 deliveries made.

People that met eligibility requirements and reside in Riverbank were able to get a bag filled with food including a turkey or ham and all the fixings. Carla Strong with Riverbank Cares explained that the larger families will receive double the amount and certain bags are filled with rice and beans or potatoes.

“The need is greater than it has been because so many of the people are homeless,” said Strong. “Obviously, first a big thank you to everybody that has donated because this is a huge undertaking. I think the thing that I would like to remind people of is that we all think about it at Christmas but this is a year-round operation. St. Vincent de Paul feeds people once a week and Christian Food Sharing feeds people every Friday. There is that much need.”

There were several volunteers that were greeting people as they entered the hall, checking them in and directing them on where to go. Ana Merlo with the Riverbank Rotary and her two daughters helped carry bags and made some deliveries. Lynda Silva with Christian Food Sharing has been providing families with food for many years and recognizes that it takes a team of people and community support to continue providing food to the community.

“Very grateful,” Silva expressed. “We had many volunteers to help get food ready, hand out the food and deliver to those who were home bound. Also appreciate all the donations from the local community, local churches and businesses that help us be able to acquire the food needed for this event and throughout the year.”

There are many people that struggle and face difficult challenges but this holiday season there were several families that had food for Christmas due to the efforts of great organizations showing that ‘Riverbank Cares.’

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Riverbank Rotary past President Ana Merlo, center, and her two daughters Michelle, left, and Anita volunteered at the food giveaway handing out bags of food, carrying them to the cars, and even making a few deliveries. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS
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Volunteers with Riverbank Cares carried the bags of food out to the vehicles for those that needed an extra hand. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS