In what has been an extremely tough year, a couple of traditional holiday efforts are underway and officials said it’s more important now than ever for people to give if they can.
The Escalon Ministerial Association has started its annual Christmas Fund Drive and EMA President, Pastor David Vander Meulen, has sent a letter to the community seeking support.
“The Christmas Fund has been a great way that our community has shown support for those who have been struggling a bit through the year. All of the funds that are collected get converted into vouchers to our local markets where these families can shop for their Christmas meals,” Vander Meulen wrote in his letter.
Last year, he said, about $18,000 was raised through the effort and distributed to over 200 families, helping provide a holiday meal for over 1,000 people altogether.
“These were people who were identified, through our schools, churches, organizations or self-request, as needing some of that encouragement,” Vander Meulen added. “I don’t know that I need to spend a lot of time explaining the need for this year. We have all seen the impact that COVID has had on our economy and lives in our community.”
The Escalon Ministerial Association, which oversees the local C.A.R.E., Community Action Resources of Escalon, food cupboard, said officials with the food bank have noticed a couple of trends.
“Yes, the use of C.A.R.E. has increased through the year, and we are giving out more food than we have in a long time,” explained Vander Meulen. “However, at the same time, donations and connections for supplies have also increased. Whenever we have asked for any support, our community has shown itself to be the generous and supportive community that it has always been.”
EMA officials are hoping that generous nature continues through the holidays, as those who can give to help those in need.
Checks can be made payable to the Escalon Ministerial Association, P.O. Box 1, Escalon, CA 95320.
“It would be greatly appreciated if donations are received by Tuesday, December 1. This will give us the time we need to determine the value of the grocery vouchers for each family to use in time for Christmas celebrations,” said Vander Meulen. “Thank you for even considering blessing us with these gifts.”
If you know of anyone who would benefit from receiving a voucher, contact one of the churches in Escalon to provide them with the family’s name, address, telephone number and the number of people in their home.
Meanwhile, the Escalon Fire Department’s Christmas Toy Drive 2020 has also started, working in cooperation with Escalon American Legion Post 263.
There will be a one-day only sign-up at the Escalon Fire Station at 1749 Coley Ave., on Saturday, Nov. 28 from 9 a.m. to 11 am.
Due to the demand for toys, said officials, they can only accommodate residents who reside within the boundaries of the Escalon Fire District.
The giveaway itself will be at the Escalon Fire Station on Monday, Dec. 21 at 9 a.m.
Due to COVID-19, it will be a ‘drive-thru pick-up’ for the toys this year.
At the sign-ups, residents will need to provide the age and gender of the children in the family needing some gifts for the holidays.
Collection boxes have been distributed locally and are available at Escalon Premier Brands, Dollar Tree, the City of Escalon, Oak Valley Bank, Mar Val, Pizza Plus, Mountain Mike’s, D’Boni’s Pizza, and Vineyard Pharmacy. Also, the Escalon Firehouse, Family Dollar, Heritage Church, Bank of the West, American Legion Post 263, Hogan Manufacturing, Van Allen and Dent Elementary Schools, El Portal Middle School, Saron Lutheran, Escalon Christian Reformed and Trinity Church. Donations of new, unwrapped toys for all ages are requested, from birth to early teens.
For more information, contact the Escalon Fire Department at 209-838-7500.