Thanksgiving Donations Lagging

St. Joseph’s, Salvation Army short on holiday offerings
Gilroy – Now would be a good time for one of Jacqui Merriman’s guardian angels to show up.

The main walk in freezer at St. Joseph’s Family Center is empty. With 550 local families in need of a bird for their Thanksgiving table – and only six days until food baskets are distributed – the clock is ticking.

“To be honest, last year we had a fairly larger amount of turkeys tucked away at this point,” said Merriman, food distribution coordinator for St. Joseph’s.

As of Tuesday, 125 frozen birds occupied a small corner of the second freezer at the kitchen.

Merriman believes the economy may play a part in the drop off in donations since last year.

“I think it makes it difficult to be generous,” she said. “This year so much hardship has hit everyone.”

In the past, individuals Merriman dubs “guardian angels” have appeared and donated whatever was lacking. Some are regulars Merriman knows by their smile, others have never given her their name. They just show up with bags, and in several instances – with truck loads.

“I have been fretting about it, but God takes care of us,” she said.

While the centerpiece of the holiday is missing from many baskets this year, that isn’t the only thing. Traditional items such as stuffing, cranberry sauce, potatoes, carrots and fresh fruit are needed too.

“I keep thinking (Thanksgiving) is coming up on all of us rather quickly,” Merriman said. “I keep thinking it’s a couple of weeks away and it’s not.”

Outside it may still feel like summer, but the changing leaves are a tell-tale sign that the holidays are upon us – whether we’re ready or not.

But Merriman isn’t the only person with her fingers crossed. The Salvation Army in Gilroy is also giving out 300 food baskets to needy families Nov. 23. So far, only 50 frozen turkeys have been collected.

“Anybody can get a basket. Just show up,” said Robert Viquez, captain of the Salvation Army Gilroy Corps Community Center. “It’s first come, first serve – when we run out, we run out.”

Salvation Army is also collecting chickens and looking for additional freezer space to keep them frozen until Thanksgiving.

Currently, the Salvation Army has about three smaller freezers and is hoping local businesses will donate much needed space to keep the birds fresh.

In about a month, Merriman will be scrambling again. For Christmas, an additional 600 families will be signing up for Christmas baskets.

“Anything traditional would be greatly appreciated,” Merriman said.” It always happens. You just have to believe it’s going to be fine,” Merriman said.

Wanted: frozen turkeys and more

Turkeys and traditional holiday goodies such as stuffing mix, cranberry sauce, fresh fruits and vegetables.

Volunteers are needed to help pack

Thanksgiving baskets at St. Joseph’s

Family Center, 7950 Church Street, Nov. 21 and hand them out Nov. 22 from 9am to 2pm. Details: 846-6662.

The Salvation Army needs turkeys and chickens to stock

300 holiday baskets.

Drop off frozen birds at 200 West Fifth St. or call 848-5373.

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