Holiday happiness was abound at Turlock Together’s Christmas Distribution Day event at the Turlock Fruit Company on Saturday.
Organizer Lissette Maunakea says for the past two weeks about 50 volunteers a day have been collecting and organizing Christmas baskets, food, household items, clothing and toys for more than 1,600 less fortunate Turlock families.
“I’m amazed every year at how many people come out to volunteer and the number of donations the community gives. We’re proud of our community,” said Maunakea.
Families who receive the gifts will receive a fully-furnished Christmas dinner box and children each receive a toy box filled with one large toy, two or three smaller toys, a game and a stuffed animal.
Thanks to fundraising efforts by Bell Real Estate Cycling Team and PMZ Real Estate agents there were more than 75 bicycles donated to Turlock Together and many children were given one through the event.
Donna Bodtle, a mother to her five-year-old daughter Katie, was overjoyed with excitement for her girl, who was one of the children given a bike — a Hello Kitty bike and Minnie Mouse helmet.
“It means so much, this is awesome and so amazing to see how much the community helps,” she said.
Volunteers of all ages were happy to give their time — and expert toy selecting skills. Seven-year-old Neveah Siler and her cousin Jessie Riddle, 14, used their skills to pick toys according to age groups.
“It’s a lot of fun to pick out the toys and it feels good to help other kids,” said Neveah.
Jessie’s mother, Veronica has been volunteering for 10 years and encourages her children and family to come out each year.
Volunteer Organizer Bob McCune, who schedules to 200 volunteers on the distribution day and the hundreds more who help set up the event says organizations like FFA, 4-H, local church groups, Turlock and Pitman High Schools, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Companies like Hilmar Cheese and Century 21 Real Estate all step up to help the needy in Turlock.
Of particular note, Maunakea praised students from California State University, Stanislaus who donated 700 plus toys to Turlock Together.
Young volunteer Neveah Siler, 7, picks a coloring book and crayons to put into a child’s Christmas box. 12-20-14