By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Toy, Food Giveaway Draws Hundreds
The children got presents for Christmas and families received a holiday feast for the table in a huge giveaway of both toys and food sponsored by numerous organizations at the Riverbank Community Center on Dec. 22.

By the time the doors were opened at 10 a.m. there were lines of people stretching halfway around the park. Organizers said they started forming at 6 a.m. on a very chilly day.

Riverbank Oakdale Transit Authority manager Donna Bridges, who with Norma Torres Manriquez at City Hall coordinated the whole effort, said there were 600 families pre-registered for gifts and several hundred families and individuals turned up for just food or both food and toys.

Christian Food Sharing postponed its usual food distribution on the previous Friday, and St. Vincent de Paul of the Catholic Church also rescheduled to hand out bags and bags of groceries at Tuesday's event.

Many members of those two groups headed by Bernice Bick and Scott McRitchie were helping at the distribution.

Riverbank High students of the Step by Step Club checked out toys along with numerous other young volunteers scrambling from box to box to distribute the gifts.

Esther Rosario of the Casa del Rio Community Resource Center, whose organization compiled the lists of families receiving gifts, was there in person guiding recipients to the tables.

Scott Pettit of the Black Belt Academy manned the door for families leaving with bags stuffed with goods. He expressed concern about the lines of people waiting outside in the cold and promised next time he will organize distribution of hot coffee among them.

Organizers did recognize the low temperature outside in passing out free, woolly hats hand knitted by Alice Visser of Ceres.

Meanwhile in the separate line for food, Dick McCullough was directing traffic towards the distributors at tables loaded with reusable grocery bags left over from Beyond Earth Day.

One or more raised fingers from McCullough brought a volunteer hurrying forward with a turkey, a chicken or a ham, depending on the family's size, to add to the basic ingredients of a Christmas meal.

Members of the Riverbank Rotary Club such as Carla Strong, Ken Geisick, Leonard Hansen and Al Veldstra were doing a lot of the work in the food department.

Among groups too numerous to identify, the main ones included Christian Food Sharing, St. Vincent de Paul, Riverbank Rotary Club, Casa del Rio, the Sheriff's Team of Active Retired Seniors, Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Prevention District, Oak Valley Hospital District and Riverbank High School's Step by Step Club.