The holidays are upon us and Riverbank Christian Food Sharing was at it again with their seventh annual Turkey Drive to help feed families in need this holiday season. This past Saturday there was an excitement-filled group of youngsters, radiating light during a wintry, cloudy day on Patterson Road. That’s where several Cardozo Middle School sixth graders and other volunteers held up signs in hopes of securing donations.
The core group of Carla Strong, Lynda Silva, Scott McRitchie, Richard and Julie Boos and, for the third year in a row, Christine Wallen and approximately 27 sixth graders from Cardozo Middle School (CMS) hit the pavement for a very successful turkey drive from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
There were 38 turkeys donated, $1,700 in cash donations, and about 150 pounds of non-perishable items that were collected during a canned food drive at CMS including canned goods and mashed potatoes.
“Cardozo kids did a fantastic job this year,” said Silva. “They brought us probably 60 cases of food yesterday that they collected at the junior high. The leadership teacher was just phenomenal.”
“Our kids are required to have community service to go to camp,” added Wallen. “Part of their scholarship money that they get the stipulation is that they have to do community service for it so they get $10 an hour and in this process they learn the spirit of community service, of helping people in the community at the same time.”
Riverbank resident and parent volunteer Tiffany Bornmann held a sign supporting her son Aiden’s efforts in earning community service hours for camp and learning what it means to help others.
“He is earning money for sixth grade camp but it is also for the good cause to donate turkeys and money for the Christian Food Sharing,” added Bornmann. “It has been really good. It has been really steady. We are getting a lot of money donations and a lot of turkey donations. It is going well.”
The sixth graders decorated all the posters and some will be out at the Christmas parade with representatives of the Christian Food Sharing group passing out flyers about their services.
Some of the kids stayed a few hours and some stayed the entire time. One student was not going to go to camp but decided to participate in the turkey drive anyway.
“We just finished the canned food drive,” said Wallen. “So the kids were excited and in the spirit. Even though they are getting benefits for this they are learning something in the process; that is why I think this is a really good community service for them.”
Cars were honking and “Happy Thanksgiving!” was being shouted out and others stopped by to hand out monetary donations, non-perishable items and turkeys throughout the breezy afternoon.
Strong and Julie Boos donned turkey suits, proudly walking back and forth along Patterson Road drawing attention to the cause and collecting donations.
“We have done really well,” stated Strong. “Thankfully the rain held off which has made a big difference and the kids are phenomenal. They make a huge difference with what they are able to do.
“I think we are about double this year so it is really good to see the kids out. It teaches them too because a lot of times they don’t realize that there are other people that don’t have enough to eat.”
Christian Food Sharing was started five years ago and everything collected will be shared with St. Vincent de Paul and distributed on Dec. 23 to help feed approximately 350 families as well as people that have registered for home delivery that are unable to make it to the distribution.
With help from O’Brien’s Market and the Walmart on McHenry in Modesto, the organization was able to get several turkeys and chickens for families in need. Currently they are still collecting turkey bucks from O’Brien’s that will help them purchase more turkeys that may be needed. WestAmerica Bank gave the group a donation which helped to purchase a thousand pounds of beans and 240 cases of green beans.
“I try to impress upon people that it doesn’t have to be a big donation,” explained Silva. “A dollar buys two pounds of beans that helps two families. It doesn’t have to be a big donation; every little bit helps. That is what is so wonderful and people don’t realize the money we receive goes into the community, it stays here.”
Donations are being accepted at the Scout Hall on Friday mornings or call 209-480-6548 and Silva will be glad to pick up the donation if necessary.
“I don’t think there is anything you could do that would make you feel any better than seeing the smile on somebody’s face when you hand them the food, so volunteering or being the one that is providing the resources, that is a good feeling no matter what,” expressed Strong.
“Thank you from all of us to everyone that helped out and stopped by,” expressed Silva. “The kids were fantastic and excited. We had a very blessed Saturday.”