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Holiday Drives Hit Stride
1120 Food
Escalon High School students and FFA members, from left, Zack Gardner, Lexi Anderson and Monica Calderon, all freshmen, add some more items to the collection box as part of the FFA Thanksgiving Food Drive going on now at the school. Marg Jackson/The Times

With just over a week to go before Thanksgiving, local organizations have started the holiday food drive season.

At Escalon High School, the local FFA has been collecting canned and boxed goods, along with all the fixings for holiday dinners, since Friday, Nov. 1. The collection is wrapping up this week and ag teacher and FFA advisor Jennifer Terpstra said the effort will provide food baskets for the Thanksgiving holiday for many local families.

“The whole school is invited,” Terpstra said of seeking participation from students and staff for the collection effort. “The food will go to less fortunate families in the community. The counselors and local churches help us find families who may need a holiday meal.”

A crew of FFA members will gather to put the food baskets together on Friday, Nov. 22 after school, said Terpstra, and then will deliver them that evening.

“Our older members who drive volunteer to deliver the meals to the families,” she explained. “Also, the Kiwanis have donated $100 to add to the collection so we can use it to add more food to the baskets. Our goal is to create full holiday meals for at least 20 local families.”

Meats such as turkeys and hams can be brought in the final day of the drive (Nov. 21) to the school so they can be added to the baskets for the families. Other items on the ‘wish list’ to make the baskets complete include boxed stuffing, canned cranberry sauce, bread or rolls, cornbread, canned vegetables, pies, apple cider, hot chocolate, mini marshmallows, canned yams, boxed mashed potatoes, brown sugar and more.

While the students work on creating baskets for local families, the annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner is also on the schedule for Thursday, Nov. 28. That effort is supported by the Escalon Ministerial Association and donations to help finance the meal can be sent to the association, P.O. Box 1, Escalon, CA 95320.

The meal will be served at the city’s Community Center on Thanksgiving Day, and the traditional feast is offered free to anyone who wants to join in. There is home delivery of meals to the elderly, ill or shut in and orders can be phoned in to DeeAnna and Lounette Jackson at 838-6808 to order meals for delivery on Thanksgiving Day. Coordinator Bev Arnold said she is also looking for volunteers to help with the cooking of the turkeys needed for the dinner.

“I need people to show up Tuesday, Nov. 26 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to help me cook 23 or 24 turkeys,” Arnold said. “I also need people to show up Wednesday to help slice turkeys and cook stuffing, beans, potatoes and everything else.”

Those that can donate some time are asked to stop at the Community Center on Tuesday or Wednesday to assist with the meal preparation.

In addition to Thanksgiving, the community is also being asked to help out with the ongoing Operation Christmas Child effort, with the Relay Center open all this week at the Escalon Covenant Church. The operation seeks age-appropriate gifts for needy youngsters across the country and the world, with an added message of God’s love tucked in to each shoebox full of gifts. Relay Center Coordinator Cheryl Degerman can be reached for more information at 209-988-4262. Hours for the center are Wednesday, Nov. 20 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, Nov. 21 and 22, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.; Saturday, Nov. 23 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 24 from noon to 2 p.m. and Monday, Nov. 25 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Among the groups involved in operation Christmas Child this year will be the Escalon FFA.

“We are not doing Coats for Kids this year, but we will do Operation Christmas Child,” explained teacher/FFA advisor Terpstra. “Basically, we ask that people fill a shoebox with gifts for a boy or girl. Then the chapter works with Operation Christmas Child to send the gift boxes out to those in need.”