As the saying goes, it takes a community, and in this case, the Galt area community has stepped up to help their own during the holiday season. Many volunteers from Galt area churches, businesses, service clubs and schools provided a week’s worth of food, including a complete Thanksgiving feast for 120 area families who are in need.
Headed up by co-chairs Bev Cooper, Anne Dennis and Kathy Finkes this year, the annual “Thanksgiving Basket Project” just completed over 30 years of giving in the community. The project was started by the Catholic Church, which still provides volunteers to help out, along with several other churches in the area.
According to Dennis, the logistics of the project can become “interesting”, especially considering that, as an all-volunteer project, no money is allocated for administrative costs, such as cones and barricades for distribution, and storing over 100 frozen turkeys and thousands of food products, both perishable and non-perishable.
“Sometimes you have to reach outside the box for help,” Dennis said.
Most of that help comes from those who live in Galt, but sometimes businesses outside of Galt step up to help as well.
According to Dennis, most volunteers, including the three co-chairs, like to take a silent role in the massive giveaway. Some donate money, some assemble the food boxes, some help during distribution, some store food, and the list goes on and on.
“We have amazing people who play a pivotal part each year,” Dennis said. “There are a lot of generous people who like to do a good thing for the community, but want to stay in the background.”
As in years past, each organization, school and church congregation was assigned a particular donation. For example, each respective organization donated Hamburger Helper, pinto beans, rice, pasta and sauce or canned vegetables.
Committee volunteers use the financial donations to fill in the rest, especially the perishable items such as milk, butter, potatoes and bread.
As for the frozen turkeys, one church congregation steps up each year and donates the needed birds, stores them, then delivers them to the distribution site. This year, Assemblyman Jim Cooper also donated turkeys.
Boxes were assembled and distributed at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the corner of Carillion and Vintage Oak.
The parking lot of the church was set up for one-way traffic, complete with borrowed cones and barriers to help safely distribute the food early Saturday morning.
“Once the food is packed up, the families drive through our parking lot and we load them up,” Cooper said.
Cooper agreed that this project is a community effort and something all the volunteers love to do.
“It’s an amazing amount of fun,” Cooper said. “We’ve done it so many years that we’re a well-oiled machine. It all goes really smoothly.”
Family names are provided by the local school districts, which keep a tight lip on those being provided for.
Although teenagers and children help to assemble the boxes, they are not at distribution in order to help with confidentiality.
Any food that may be left over from the day is taken to another local church, which holds an afternoon food distribution.
“This is a big effort here in Galt,” Dennis said. “Galt is a wonderful community; it is impressive what Galt does.”
Galt’s impressive generosity goes well beyond the Thanksgiving Basket Project. Dennis pointed out that, although not all church congregations or nonprofits participate in this project, they provide community assistance in other ways throughout the year, including hosting precooked dinners, and food and clothes closets.
“I just love Galt,” Dennis said. “The generosity in this town is amazing.”
Editor’s note: Bonnie Rodriguez contributed to this story.