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Escalon C.A.R.E. Benefits From Holiday Food Drive
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Escalon C.A.R.E. Director Patti Baxter, right, and her daughter Sherri Vaden were on hand this weekend at MarVal Main Street Market, encouraging shoppers to help them ‘stuff the bus’ with food donations in cooperation with eTrans, which provided the bus. Marg Jackson/The Times
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Transit coordinator John Andoh of Escalon loads a couple more bags of donated food into the eTrans bus along McHenry Avenue on Saturday, with some 2,900 pounds of food collected for C.A.R.E., the local food cupboard. Marg Jackson/The Times

A new venue was utilized in Escalon this year and donations continued to pour in … as San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD) and its partners collected over 24,000 pounds of food this past weekend. The collection included 690 turkeys donated during the 20th annual ‘Stuff the Bus food drive hosted at multiple sites around San Joaquin County from Nov. 16 through 18.

Since 1999, RTD and its partners have raised over 339,000 pounds of food donations at Stuff the Bus events. This year, Stuff the Bus also collected coats for those in need, bringing in 150 coats.

Escalon’s drive featured an eTrans bus parked along McHenry Avenue, with shoppers able to receive a 10 percent discount on food items purchased for the drive from the MarVal Main Street Market on McHenry.

A KWIN radio station broadcast on Saturday and a visit from a TV station on Sunday helped bolster the local effort. Escalon eTrans collected 2,900 pounds of food for the Escalon C.A.R.E. Center, the community food cupboard serving Escalon and Farmington.

Escalon Transit Coordinator John Andoh and C.A.R.E. Director Patti Baxter were among those on hand to greet shoppers and accept donations this weekend at MarVal.

The Boy Scouts of America, Community Medical Centers, and the Apex Aspire School participated in Stuff the Bus this year with their own food and coat drives. RTD also worked with local transit agencies, eTrans of Escalon and Manteca Transit, on the simultaneous food and coat drives that benefitted Escalon C.A.R.E and Second Harvest Food Bank.

RTD collected 15,000 pounds of food for the Stockton Emergency Food Bank, an increase over last year. Manteca Transit collected 6,400 pounds of food for the Second Harvest Food Bank. Together, with the 2,900 pounds donated in Escalon, the food donations will provide over 19,000 meals throughout the county.

Andoh said eTrans has participated for the last several years and noted that the food drive is beneficial to C.A.R.E., especially during this time of year, as they look to provide holiday food items for those in need in the community.