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Community Sharing Stocks Up For Thanksgiving Push
An Oakdale Community Sharing volunteer reviews the grocery list of recipients each week before the items are collected by one of its 200-plus clients. Teresa Hammond/The Leader

No one likes the idea of someone going hungry, most especially during the holiday season. Fortunately for those living through hard times or coming up short in the 95361, Oakdale Community Sharing continues to offer food to recipients weekly. The Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons are no different.

“We’re expecting a large crowd,” Fred Rich, President of Oakdale Community Sharing, said. “Thanksgiving and Christmas always top our chart.”

Now in his fifth year as president, Rich shared the non-profit serves between 220 to 240 recipients weekly. That number translates to roughly 500-plus people in need of food.

Food for individuals and families is distributed from the Community Christian Center at 579 Center St., Oakdale, each Tuesday. The volunteer run organization has served the community of Oakdale for over 60 years.

While their services are not only needed, but utilized weekly, modifications are made to the grocery baskets for the holiday weeks. Between 150 to 200 turkeys will be given to families with three or more members, including the fixings for a complete Thanksgiving meal during the Tuesday, Nov. 26 distribution.

“We’ve been very blessed with that,” Rich said of community donations which include baked goods, candy, pastries and varying other items from local grocery stores, bakeries and businesses. “Our community support is just out of this world.”

The turkeys distributed are from Second Harvest and/or Ball Corporation employees who donate back the turkeys given by the company to employees.

“Every year we have people drive up and say, hey, we’ve got a couple of turkeys,” Rich said of the frozen turkeys distributed that Tuesday.

Community Sharing recipients must provide proof of living in the 95361 due to grant procedures. Ninety to 95 percent of recipients Rich noted were regulars.

“Oakdale’s pretty unique,” he said. “Most communities don’t have the kind of passing out of baskets of groceries the way we do. Most pantries in most cities try it for a period of time and they find out it’s very expensive and they go broke.”

While the community support is invaluable, so too are the volunteers. Currently the center runs on a team of 35 volunteers, but they can always use more.

“What we don’t really need are holiday volunteers,” Rich stated, explaining that they have plenty of extra help come with current volunteers (i.e.: students or family) during the holiday.

“We could use people that are willing to work on a weekly basis or fill in for someone when they go on vacation,” he shared.

Volunteers are utilized on Monday with prep for distribution day, as well as throughout the week visiting local businesses for product pick up and then again for their busiest day – Tuesday.

“It’s pretty impressive how many people pass through,” the non-profit president acknowledged. He offered kudos to the past leaders and volunteers for the efficiency at which the system operates.

Community Sharing operates 51 weeks out of the 52 weeks in the year. They close only the Tuesday before Christmas or New Year’s, depending on the calendar.

“Probably what I enjoy the most are the smiles. We run across some people that are very much in need and have gone through some hard times,” Rich said. “My advice to everyone is don’t count on retiring on Social Security only. You just can’t live on that.”

Donations of food, money or clothing are always accepted at the center. The president shared contributions to the clothes closet are always needed, especially during the colder months.

“You just kind of feel good when you’ve done something for someone, it’s almost the golden rule,” Rich said of his overall feeling as a volunteer.

Community Sharing is open for clients each Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

For additional information call (209) 847-3401; messages will be returned.

Desserts, as well as canned goods, bread and eggs line the shelves of the Oakdale Community Sharing at 579 Center St., Oakdale. The Oakdale-based food bank has served the community for over 60 years. Teresa Hammond/The Leader