The Galt community turned out in force on Nov. 20 to help families in need put food on the table for Thanksgiving. Four separate groups organized food distributions last Saturday.

Thanksgiving baskets

A group of volunteers gathered at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Vintage Oak Avenue on Nov. 19 to prepare Thanksgiving baskets — boxes filled to the brim with holiday essentials.

After less than an hour of assembly line work, more than 110 baskets had been loaded up with everything from green beans and corn to flour and sugar. Co-organizer Kathy Finkes planned to pick up perishable items like frozen turkeys the next morning, when families would drive through the church parking lot and each have a box loaded into their cars.

St. Christopher’s Catholic Church started the drive more than 25 years ago, according to Finkes, and the effort has expanded to include multiple local churches, businesses and schools, which donate food and funds.

The group finds families to receive baskets through Galt’s schools.

“Each school can start off recommending 10 families, but we always have a few extra baskets” that can meet the families’ varying needs from year to year, fellow organizer Bev Cooper said.

Tasked with lining up the donations, Finkes said there always ends up being more than enough food.

“Even though I stress that we’re not going to have enough, it always is there,” Finkes said.

Sunshine Food Pantry

Based at Galt United Methodist Church, Sunshine Food Pantry opened on the morning of Nov. 20 to distribute food, but well after the official hours, it was still giving out food to the occasional stragglers. In all, it served more than 130 people.

“We gave out over 150 turkeys because some people needed two,” pantry director Faye Gaines said, “but it was very well received.”

The Thanksgiving distribution has been happening for 12 years, and this year, Galt Sunrise Rotary will hold a Christmas distribution.

“The gratitude that the people who come in here show, and how thankful they are, it warms my heart and every volunteer that’s here,” Gaines said. “And that’s why we’re here, to make sure that no one goes hungry, especially at Thanksgiving.”

Sunshine Food Pantry is open on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month and is located at 571 C Street.

Real Life Church

The food pantry is “one of the core ministries” at Real Life Church of Galt, the Rev. Frank Pereira said on Saturday. As the outreach pastor, he oversees the church’s food distributions.

It was looking as if the church was going to have food boxes left over once all the lined-up cars had gone through, so the volunteers began offering the recipients extra boxes. The volunteers included students from Galt High School.

Pereira called the opportunity to help feed local families “a blessing to our church.”

“They (food recipients) will email us or call us and just say, ‘Thank you so much. We were struggling this month. We needed to stretch our budget. We lost our job,’ and things like that,” Pereira said. “And it’s just a blessing to hear those stories and then know that we had a little part in helping them get to that next step.”

Real Life Church’s food pantry will open 4-5 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of December, and on the second and fourth Mondays of January. The church is located at 550 Industrial Drive.

First Baptist

Church of Galt

Saturday marked the launch of a revamped food pantry at First Baptist Church of Galt, after organizers spent the previous three months adjusting for the coronavirus pandemic.

Food recipients filed through the pantry, selecting the items they needed from shelves. Pre-assembled boxes of food were also available, along with bags of toiletries donated by a Galt High student.

Pantry director Sheila Allen said letting recipients choose their food has personal meaning for her.

“I was once on the receiving end of a food pantry and it was so undignified and so embarrassing and I vowed, when I have the ability, to let people come and be empowered,” Allen said.

Especially now, many people “are having a hard time making ends meet,” the Rev. Steve Messinger said. “And as much as anything else, I think we’re instructed as followers of Christ to try and love people and to express that not just in word but in action.”

First Baptist Church of Galt is located at 653 A Street. It will hold another distribution on Dec. 18.