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The Ebbetts Pass Elves display their hand-crafted wooden toys that are donated to the Santa’s Express program.
The Resource Connection’s Food Bank (TRCFB) has been teaming up with Toys for Tots (TFT) for 36 years, providing full, free meals and free gifts for children for the holiday season.The program, Santa’s Express, “provides a complete holiday meal to cook from home for families in our community and in need,” said TRCFB Director Tina Mather in an interview on Monday. “We also supply gifts for children, aging from birth to 17 years old.”
Even though the registration for the annual holiday meal giveaway and toy pickup ended Dec. 4, donations are still being accepted in any form. Whether it be toys for kids, food donations or money – anything helps and goes a long way, according to Mather.“No one should go hungry,” Mather said. “And no children should go without gifts for the holidays.”In previous years, this program has provided holiday meals for hundreds of families in the county as well as given away hundreds of free toys to parents struggling to put presents under the Christmas tree.Last year, 779 families signed up for holiday meals. The program also supplied 333 toys for children through TFT.Many organizations, such as California Highway Patrol, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, county schools, the Calaveras Rotary Club and Forest Meadows have assisted in this program, collecting donations for the cause.The Ebbetts Pass Elves, a group of retired men in Calaveras, has handcrafted wooden toys for the Santa’s Express program for many years, according to Mather.“This program could not happen without our community,” Mather said. “We are grateful and so thankful for their support.”
Due to COVID-19 this year, the anticipated numbers for the holiday meals will be less, around 600 families, according to Mather.The process has fluctuated to abide by the safety guidelines permitted in the county.Meals and toys will be handed to families and parents in a special drive-thru procedure.“Due to the lockdown, parents will get toys, but will not be able to choose themselves,” Mather said, “It’s just exclusively because of COVID.”“It’s a whole new way of doing things,” said Richard Peters, TFT’s coordinator in Calaveras County. “We are just going to adapt and overcome.”Due to the new, slower way of processing things this year, “We ask people to be patient and wear a mask, even when they never leave their car,” Mather said. “They will still be in contact with our staff and volunteers. Everyone who comes through needs to wear a mask. We want everyone to have a safe and healthy holiday.”Volunteers are still needed for the program, which launches the giveaways on Monday Dec. 21. Those interested can find information on TRC’s Facebook page or sign up by phone through the Food Bank.Donations are still accepted and can be brought into the Food Bank Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Checks can be sent to either The Resource Connection at P.O. Box 1656, San Andreas, CA 95249 or Toys for Tots at P.O. Box 711, Burson, CA 95225.For more general information, call (209) 754-1257.
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