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Talking Turkey - FFA, C.A.R.E. Aid Families
FFA food
Escalon High School seniors Melissa Orosco, left, and Emily Matos take stock of the items collected during the FFA Food Drive, with the donations used to create Thanksgiving baskets for local families. - photo by Marg Jackson/The Times

Escalon High School’s FFA is in the giving spirit, ready to pass out Thanksgiving baskets full of food for local families in need.

Likewise, the Escalon C.A.R.E. Center is getting ready for the holiday rush, when families having trouble making ends meet will need some extra help putting a healthy holiday meal on the table.

At the high school, donations started coming in for the annual FFA Food Drive at the start of November, culminating with the final donation of turkeys on Tuesday, Nov. 18 for giveaway this week.

“Right now they are starting to sift through all the food, getting ready to put the baskets together,” explained Escalon High ag teacher and FFA advisor Jennifer Terpstra on Tuesday morning. “We plan to assemble Tuesday, deliver on Wednesday.”

A group of students from the FFA makes the deliveries and Terpstra said they have been given names of families in need through a source at the high school. Baskets are made up depending on how many people are in the family.

“We do ask for the family size, we try to put the baskets together that way.” Terpstra said, making sure each basket has enough food for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

As the school district prepares for a week off during the Thanksgiving holiday period, Terpstra said the FFA is also planning one more project, a Thursday ‘Rake and Run’ effort were students will rake leaves for local residents that might need some help in doing the yard work.

“We swoop in, rake their leaves and take off,” Terpstra said.

At the Escalon C.A.R.E. Center on Second Street, the regular third Thursday of the month emergency food distribution for residents of Escalon and Farmington who meet the income eligibility guidelines is scheduled for tomorrow, Nov. 20. Coordinator Patti Baxter said she was also extremely pleased with the ‘Stuff the Bus’ effort this past weekend, with residents encouraged to donate food to help the local food cupboard meet holiday needs and help stock the shelves for the coming winter months.

In cooperation with the San Joaquin County transit program, a local eTrans bus was parked at Big Boy Market and shoppers encouraged to donate to help fill the local needs.

Baxter said the Friday through Sunday donation period resulted in well over 100 bags of groceries being donated, in addition to money, whole turkeys and turkey breasts.

“We’ll probably give out some of the turkeys this week,” Baxter said. “We also got cash donations of $87, which we will use to buy more turkeys and hams for the holidays. People were very generous.”