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Students Aid Church Food Distribution
It was the day the church packs food for the needy. The adults, however, were merely in charge. Youngsters were doing the work.

Several churches around Riverbank prepare and distribute food to low income families each month. But Christ the King Episcopal Church on Estelle Avenue has found a way to enlist the energy and goodwill of students from the after school program at Rio Altura School, which is located nearby.

The room in the Wright Center adjacent to the church was a flurry of activity on Friday as selected students handed out the canned goods and others flew around the room to pack the brown paper bags lining its walls.

"We're doing it for the poor - and it's fun," said one of the 20 or so students, Sebastian Ruthford.

"We're helping people, everybody," added Alejandra Salinas, who's enrolled in the after school program at Riverbank Language Academy also located on the same campus at Rio Altura.

The church's Food in Faith Program feeds about 75 families on the third Saturday of each month, said program organizer Jeanette Comegys, adding they assembled the bags on the Friday and put in meat the next morning just before distribution to the families. The program has run for seven years already.

The children walk over from the Casa del Rio, Rio Altura's center of after school activities, on the third Friday of each month. After school program aide Fevita Vigil supervised them at the church work day this past week.

"Maybe some of these children are low income and their parents will be here Saturday to pick up the bags their kids packed. I don't know," said Louise McCoskey, a church member helping with the food distribution program.

The commodities going into the 72 bags assembled Friday included mixed vegetables, suddenly salad mix, blueberry muffin mix, pineapple slices, peaches, Kix cereal, penne pasta and spaghetti.

The whole packaging took less than an hour and was fast and furious. One of the boys' favorite activities was crushing empty cardboard boxes in a large trash bin. That required them to clamber in and stomp down the boxes like grapes.

Students learn valuable lessons from the activity, from teamwork to giving back to the community.