Food Pantry in high gear for Thanksgiving

November 24, 2008 5:29:26 PM PST
It's heartbreaking to see how many people are out of work, homeless or just down on their luck.

It is heartwarming that places like the Sacred Heart Community Center are helping out.

But like every program in the Bay Area donations here are down about 20 percent and the need has gone up more than 50 percent and is still rising.

The line of people who need food this Thanksgiving stretches around the block at the San Jose Sacred Heart Community Center.

The center on Alma Street is giving food boxes to about 800 more people than last year. Grandmother LaDean Rodriguez and her husband face this holiday out of work.

"Right now we're living in a motel, so it's going to help us out a lot. It's our dinner... It's something we wouldn't have had any other way," she says.

She and her husband are struggling to care for their three grandchildren who now live with them.

"The other day I stood in the homeless line for gifts for my kids too," said Rodriguez.

Without the 30 to 40 pounds of food Sacred Heart is giving away, her Thanksgiving and the Thanksgiving of thousands of others who will be lining up here from now until Wednesday would be a lean one.

"I used to volunteer here. But now I come to get clothes and food once a month," said former volunteer Laura Sacil.

The center is seeing a greater need for food and clothing than ever before.

Donations are down. Sacred Heart only has 2400 turkeys for 3300 families. So they are beginning to substitute ham and chicken to take up the slack.

To prevent people from waiting outside in long lines for hours the center devised an appointment plan. Many waited in line last week to get a card with an appointment time.

"We're able to provide people a dignified experience and a wonderful Thanksgiving meal," said Kimberly Abate with the center.

Something the center also desperately needs is toys. Last December they gave out 15,000 toys to 5000 children. But so far they only have a small pile of for the next holiday.

The center will be giving away Thanksgiving dinners Tuesday and Wednesday from 9a-5p. They will also be accepting donations of all kinds from 8a-5p. The center also wants everyone to realize that the needs many people have will not end after the holidays.

ABC7 is committed to ending hunger in the Bay Area. Click here to help with our End Hunger Now campaign.


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