Roll out the barrels

Community Pantry picked up the last of the food barrels Thursday
for the Second Harvest Food Bank’s Holiday Food Drive campaign at
San Andreas Continuation High School.
Community Pantry picked up the last of the food barrels Thursday for the Second Harvest Food Bank’s Holiday Food Drive campaign at San Andreas Continuation High School. The food drive included all 16 schools in San Benito County.

Community Pantry Executive Director Tom Larkin said the barrels were distributed during the first week of October. Students filled up the barrels with non-perishables for the many families who would go without a holiday meal if not for the generosity of others.

“We haven’t completed counting all the food we got from all the schools,” Larkin said. “But this will all help during the holidays.”

Larkin said so far the Pantry has collected only 50 turkeys for this year’s Thanksgiving meal.

“We have about 700 to go,” he said. “We like to give people turkeys for Thanksgiving and give them the chickens at Christmas time. We purchased 1,200 chickens from Second Harvest last Christmas.”

The number of holiday grocery bags put together this year will nearly double, Larkin said.

“Last year we had 460 turkeys that we donated. This year the minimum we need is 786,” he said. “That’s a big increase in families that need our help.”

But Larkin isn’t worried.

“People are good,” he said. “Once people realize this is what we need, they’ll come across as they have in the past.”

But Larkin isn’t sure if he can count on corporations giving turkeys to their employees this year and the employees in turn giving the turkeys to the Pantry.

“We usually will get people bringing in 20 to 40 turkeys at a time,” he said. “But I don’t know if they can do it this year because things are so tight.”

Another big help, Larkin said, were specials on turkeys at grocery stores.

“Last year Albertson’s had a ‘buy one, get one free’ and people would bring them in for us,” he said.

More than 21,000 pounds of non-perishable food was collected in the food drive, Larkin said. It will make up nearly 7,000 bags of groceries, excluding fresh produce and meat.

“We try to give meat to these people at least every couple of three months,” he said.

Holiday food bags will be distributed at Community Pantry’s regular distribution locations on Wednesdays.

“They can pick up their holiday bag and we’ll hand them a turkey,” Larkin said.

Community Pantry and Marley Holte’s Annual Holiday Dinners go hand-in-hand, he said.

“God works in mysterious ways,” Larkin said. “Marley was short last year and we had a few extra ones so we gave him 40 turkeys. We give them away and he feeds them (people).”

To donate chickens, turkeys or anything else for the holidays call Community Pantry at 637-0340.

-E-mail Linda Lee King at [email protected]

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