Doors at the Riverbank Community Center were going to open at 10 a.m. for residents within the community to pick up some free food for the holidays but due to the cold, the doors opened a little early, at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 20 so that residents did not have to stand outside in the cold for long.
The Riverbank Cares 2013 Christmas Food Drive helped 275 families and 946 individuals, which is a little less than last year according to Lynda Silva, co-chair for Riverbank Christian Food Sharing.
The Riverbank Rotary Club members and volunteers also made approximately 50 deliveries of food to people that were disabled and to the housing authority.
Scott McRitchie from St. Vincent de Paul stated that they had given food to approximately 200 people in about a half hour shortly after the doors opened.
There were several volunteers like Chris Elswick and Carla Strong with the Riverbank Rotary Club and several children and grandchildren of club members to help assist residents with getting their food to their vehicles.
Young volunteer Gavin Zirkle traveled all the way from Oakland to spend time with his grandparents and to help out at the food giveaway.
The Riverbank Cares Committee started collecting turkeys and food for the giveaway in November.
“The Turkey Drive kicked off the food collection for the giveaway,” stated Silva. “However, we need food year round and we always need help.”
Two volunteers within the community were sisters Dominique and Ana Merlot. Both the girls attend Modesto Christian School and were very happy to volunteer at the food drive.
“It brings me happiness to help others and to be here,” said Dominique.
Organizers provide enough for a big family meal, with items typically including turkey, canned vegetables, canned fruit, rice, beans, crackers, cottage cheese, oranges, bread and pastries.
A smaller family may have received a turkey, potatoes, canned goods, crackers, yogurt, oranges, rolls and pastries.
And for those that may not have the means to cook a turkey or chicken they may have received a canned ham and several other items as listed above, said organizers.
With the Riverbank Rotary Club, Riverbank Christian Food Sharing, members from St. Vincent de Paul and the other volunteers coming together, Riverbank Cares 2013 Christmas Food Drive reached its holiday goal of feeding families within the community.