Some residents even lined up over the weekend just for a chance to sign up. The good news Monday morning was that donations were coming in at a steady pace. At the same time, people needing help over the holidays also continued streaming in to the center. The message from Sacred Heart is that they need donations and they need them fast because the big day is almost here.
Sonia Gonzalez was one of the first people through the door Monday morning for the non-profits annual turkey giveaway. "I'm a single mom. I'm on a fixed income," she said. "I don't work right now." What concerns Sacred Heart employees is how many people need help. Last year, they served a record high of 4,000 families. "We're trying to serve just as many as we did last year, maybe more, we'll see how that goes, but certainly in a far shorter time, almost a week, week and a half shorter," spokesperson Jay Pecot said.
Sacred Heart employees think the early Thanksgiving date this year has hurt donations. Turkey just hasn't been on peoples' minds yet. But on Monday morning, the line of donors in the parking lot indicated that people are ready to start thinking about Thanksgiving. "I thought I better get moving," Ingrid Niederer told ABC7 News, saying the holiday snuck up on her. "It's very quick after Halloween."
Suzanne Belshe brings donated food from her local Safeway. On Monday morning, her SUV was full. "I can't even believe how much I have in the back of my car and we can't keep up," she said. "There's just two of us who are bringing it back and forth and we can't keep up with the demand for moving it out of the store."
One thing that has changed this year is the contents of the heavy, overflowing food boxes. There's been a real push to give people fresh produce instead of canned vegetables. It's a bit awkward to deal with but people like Gonzalez don't mind one bit. "They're very helpful, very helpful, and I really am very grateful. I just want to cry right now because if it's not for them, where are we going to be at?" she said.
When employees began working Monday morning, they thought there were going to need another 1,000 turkeys. By 11:30 a.m., they said that number was down to 600 and they felt confident they were going to meet their goal. They predict they'll be giving away 1,200 turkeys a day and they'll work through Wednesday.
Demand for food is so great, non-profits say it's not too late to donate food, especially turkeys. Sacred Heart says it's fortunate the number of donors has grown this year.
Click here for information on donating food and toys to Sacred Heart Community Service.