Three hundred low-income families were expected to make their way through the South Antelope Valley Emergency Services (SAVES) center to pick up Thanksgiving baskets on Tuesday.
Staff member Guillermo Briseno was busy handing out turkeys, rolls and pies, while other volunteers handed out bags filled with canned peas, corn mashed potatoes and other fixings for a full Thanksgiving dinner.
“It’s good what we’re doing for them,” said Briseno. “I’m happy because some people don’t have the things they need and I just feel happy to be giving to the community.”
Other volunteers included members of the Palmdale Aerospace Academy robotics team Gryffingear 5012 who were at the center from 8 in the morning and planned to be there until 4 p.m.
“We’ve just been doing this for several years,” said team member Matthew Libared “it’s a really nice gesture to the community that we try to get involved as much as we can and just impacts in a positive way.”
“I love this time of the year because the community comes out and always I am always amazed,” said Patricia Morales, SAVES Coordinator. “Today I had about 35-40 people that have come in and just volunteered to help us. I had a kid, I think 13 or 14 years old, and I had a gentleman that was 71 out there and it makes me feel really good because … we’re here to serve the community but to see people like that come and give of themselves just to help the community it makes it worth it.”
Families pre-registered for a time slot to pick up their basket and the Gryffingear members and other volunteers helped clients to their car with the food in shopping baskets. Much of the food was provided by donations from the community and local stores and supplemented with a federal grant.
Approximately 2000 food orders are given out to clients each month at the center in addition to the Thanksgiving baskets. In December another 300 baskets including gifts for the children age 17 and younger will be given out. There are still 120 slots to be filled for baskets and those in need can walk in and sign up at the SAVES facility on December 4.
The center is accepting donations of canned goods and new, unwrapped toys through December 17 for their Christmas basket giveaway. If people are going to purchase food at the grocery store specifically to donate, Morales would prefer they just donate the cash instead.
“We have a really good working relationship with the LA Food Bank and we can purchase food at a cheaper rate than if we went to the store,” explained Morales. “If somebody’s going to spend $200 going to the store to give us the food, those $200 would have gone a lot further if I had purchased the food.”
They also need gifts for older teens. They will receive some of the toys collected from AVTA Stuff-A-Bus, the CHP toy collection and from Toys for Tots.
“We’re hoping that with all that coming in from the community we won’t be needing to purchase any presents or toys and then we can focus on the food end of things,” said Morales. “Teenagers are a little challenging though because everybody gives toys for kids…so I have a couple of drives going on in the community for maybe gift cards, movie gift cards and things like that.”
SAVES is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. They also accept donations of clothing and household items. The center can be reached at (661) 267-5191.
Over at Grace Resource Center in Lancaster, over 2000 people received food this week. A hot meal will be provided for the needy at 6 p.m. on tonight and a Thanksgiving dinner at noon, Thursday.
Meanwhile Lancaster Eagle Robotic Team 399 has been busy creating handmade cards to give away this holiday season. Valentine’s Day cards will be delivered to the Pete Knight Veterans Home in Lancaster in February, get well cards will be delivered to the pediatric ward at the Antelope Valley Hospital, and Christmas cards will be given to the Red Cross to be delivered to active military.