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Local food banks gear up for holidays

November 17, 2018

Local food bank managers and volunteers have been busy separating holiday dinner items, shopping for turkeys and stocking up on food, clothes and toys ahead of the holiday season.

Volunteers at the Havasu Community Health Foundation have been separating holiday staples like canned pumpkin, cranberry, green beans and boxes and bags of instant mashed potatoes from everyday foods like noodle soup and canned fruits before moving the everyday items to their larger pantry where clients pick up groceries.

The Havasu Community food bank replaced the Interagency Council food bank after Interagency closed in July. Havasu Community food bank has been open nine weeks and is already serving almost 350 families. The first 100 families that signed up with the food bank will receive a holiday food box along with their monthly food box this year.

Colleen Mattinson, manager of the Havasu Community food bank, said she was hoping people would donate enough food to allow them to open and sustain the bank through the holidays. She said the community and has been generous with their donations.

“We were hoping and praying that we were going to get a lot of donations just so open and we have,” Mattinson said. “The community has been great to us and we’ve been very blessed.”

She said she is also grateful for volunteers that keep the food bank open. On Friday, volunteers helped clients find food items, bagged clients’ food and weighed it before helping them load the food onto their car.

Ann Lee was one of those volunteers. Lee started volunteering at the food bank since they opened two months ago. She said she appreciates the respect volunteers and clients all have for one another, and said the work is rewarding, especially when she knows she’s helping someone who really needs the food. The food bank’s clients come from all walks of life, Lee said.

“We all go through periods where we need that extra helping hand and we see it with our clients here,” Lee said. “Especially, we have the homeless, we have the seniors and we have the average family just trying to put food on the table.”

St. Vincent de Paul’s food distribution center was able to obtain 100 turkeys on Friday, just in time for Thanksgiving. The Havasu Regional Medical Center donated 50 turkeys and Walmart gave the food bank a discounted price on turkeys, allowing Kathy Hayes, food bank manager, to buy another 50 turkeys.

With Thanksgiving seemingly earlier this year, because the month started on a Thursday, Hayes and food bank volunteers have seen more families than usual this week, she said. The St. Vincent de Paul bank helped about 80 families Wednesday, 50 on Thursday and 40 Friday. Hayes said she had to tell a few families to return Friday or early this week for their turkey. She said every donation is appreciated. The food bank will be open on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving and will continue to accept food and monetary donations for its clients.

Sharon Balsarini, president of St. Vincent de Paul Conference of Our Lady of the Lakes, said they feel blessed to see so much community support.

“The people here in Havasu are very generous when it comes to donating,” Balsarini said. “Not only making their time available in the volunteer status but also in donations.”

The food bank relies on winter visitors who volunteer every year while they’re in town. The St. Vincent de Paul food bank serves more than 400 families each month, along with serving a homeless population and people who will get food in emergency situations but are not monthly clients.

Box info:

Havasu Community Health Foundation Food Bank

1980 N. Kiowa Blvd.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday

Needs:

Canned: Vegetables, beans, fruit, soups, stew, chili, tuna and meat

Powdered milk

Boxed rice

Macaroni and cheese

Pasta and sauces

Peanut butter

Jam/Jelly

Instant potatoes

Refried beans

Salsa

Breakfast cereal

Baby formula

St. Vincent de Paul Food Distribution Center

1841 W. Acoma Blvd.

Hours: Wed-Fri 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Needs:

Ham

Turkey

Dressings

Gravy

Broth

Any food that is in traditional holiday dinners

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