Food-4-Families starting food drive
Nov. 8, 2012 — Imagine Christmas is just a week away and while many are planning a big dinner with all the fixings, you’re only thinking about where your next meal will come from. But then there’s an unexpected knock on the door and there are people bearing bags of food for you, enough for a special dinner and snacks in between.
To help this scenario become a reality for many, the staff at the Lassen County District Attorney’s Victim/Witness Assistance Program has started collecting food and money for the fifth-annual Food-4-Families Food Drive.
People can donate non-perishable food that has not reached its expiration date at the Lassen County District Attorney’s Victim/Witness Assistance Program office at 700 Brashear St. in Susanville. Donations are due by Dec. 3.
According to Latoya Salas, of the victim/witness program, the goal is to provide a minimum of 220 baskets for both families and senior citizens this year. If staff receive enough donations and can do more baskets, they will.
The “baskets” are two large paper bags filled with items such as canned fruits, vegetables, pasta sauce, pasta, peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese, canned stew and chili.
According to Salas, the bags have enough food for two dinner meals, lunch and supplements.
Families receive a basket and senior citizens also get a Christmas dinner.
As with each year of the program’s existence, staff has increased the number of senior citizens Food-4-Families serves.
Denise Stelzer, victim/witness program coordinator, explained senior citizens are on a fixed income, costs are going up and they have no means to try to help themselves, especially in the outlying areas where they aren’t close to grocery stores or resources such as Salvation Army.
Food baskets for families are handed out in conjunction with Toys for Tots distribution. The senior citizens’ baskets are hand-delivered. Items are delivered throughout the county including Westwood, Doyle and Bieber.
In assisting the elderly, victim/witness staff coordinates with Lassen Senior Services and the two senior housing complexes in Susanville, where Stelzer said they deliver quite a number of baskets.
Stelzer said the greatest part for staff is when they deliver a basket. She explained when they announce who they are and what they have, the people’s faces “light up like it’s Christmas.”
She shared a story about one man and his wife who have received a basket all five years. Now, when they drive up, the man is out the door and it’s like his long lost best friend arrived.
Salas said senior citizens sometimes have to choose between eating or buying medication or paying the utility bill.
The food baskets will help feed seniors through the cold time and allow them to pay their bills because they have something to eat.
It is expected the food baskets will be handed out from Dec. 10 through Dec. 21. Toys for Tots will be holding its big distribution Saturday, Dec. 15 at the Lassen County Fairgrounds and food baskets will be given on a first come, first served basis during that time.
Victim/witness staff also coordinates with the One Stop centers in Bieber, Westwood and Doyle for distribution.
Salas and Stelzer praised the Toys for Tots partnership. According to Stelzer, Toys for Tots volunteers work with the victim/witness staff to provide a cohesiveness to ensure people aren’t double-dipping from the resources.
According to Salas, if it hadn’t been for the Toys for Tots assistance during the first two years, Food-4-Families would not be in its fifth year.
Food-4-Families has also received support from community members and its volunteers, who may help drive people home because their car is full of toys and food, or help carry in items to a person’s home.
Stelzer also sent out letters to businesses and organizations requesting assistance and/or moneta ry contributions so staff can purchase food items to complete the food baskets.
She said some businesses have offered assistance and she encourages others to do the same.
If a business can’t provide a monetary donation, employees could collect items to fill a food basket. Salas said they will deliver the paper bags.
Stelzer said Food-4-Families needs community support and help.
If a person can put down $10, “$10 is $10, she said. Or someone can buy half the things needed for a food basket.
If you would like to make a monetary or food donation, call Salas at 251-8284 for a configuration of the food basket and what items are needed.
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