Record turnout for SJ holiday food services

November 14, 2008 6:32:24 PM PST
The line to register for free holiday meals and Christmas toys from Sacred Heart Community Service in San Jose stretched down one street, around a corner and down another; an estimated 2,000 people lined up Friday.

It was the longest in 44 years, the result of growing technology sector layoffs.

Carmencita Denson was one of many who stood in line Friday. She expects it will take a long time for her to find a new job as an executive assistant.

"Well, it seems like it with DHL going under, Sun Microsystems laying off 6,000 today, with GM going down, it very well may be," Denson said.

Sacred Heart's executive director was stunned by the turnout.

"We've never seen this kind of impact of an economic downturn on families like this, so we're afraid for the future," Poncho Guevara said.

Job postings on tech company Web sited are noticeably slim for receptionists and customer service representatives. In some cases, there are no jobs. The exception is for highly skilled positions.

"There are jobs are there, but it's tough to get the requirements," Fernando Taina said. "Education is one of the big requirements."

That is why Taina was studying calculus while waiting in line.

But with new layoffs almost daily, Silicon Valley is discovering the economic downturn has hit home.

Even after registering an estimated 2,000 families today, Sacred Heart is well aware that the need is growing, and they may have to schedule another registration day soon.


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