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If you’re Danny McAlister, Food Services Manager for the Good News Rescue Mission, forget Thanksgiving morning coffee cake or a leisurely cup of French roast. By 2 a.m. today, Danny and a crew of 300 volunteers will have been out of their flannel pajamas and up to their elbows in stuffing and yams. They are expecting to host 1,200 guests for the Mission’s annual Great Thanksgiving Banquet, held one day before the traditional holiday.
Guests at the Rescue Mission’s 2009 Banquet
The Thanksgiving Banquet is the final step in a monumental, week-long community effort to receive, repackage and distribute 10 to 15 tons of food – enough for 150 hot meals an hour for eight hours, and 500 take-home turkey dinners.
“Our goal is to give people an opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving,” says Ken White, Director of Community Relations for the Mission. White also boasts that donations this year are counter to what you’d expect in unpredictable economic times.
Food awaiting preparation and distribution at the Rescue Mission Tuesday
He emphasizes that “donating time and creativity really helps out,” exemplified by the independent food drive donations from schools, businesses, churches and community members that contributed to the banner year of food donations. “Our food drives shattered all records.”
Last year’s frozen birds
The 2010 “Stuff the Truck” event
It’s a good thing. Last year, the Mission distributed 500 “Turkey Bucks” — tickets for the Thanksgiving Banquet and a take-home meal — in three weeks. This year, 80 percent of the bucks were claimed in the first five days.
But holiday food drive donations are just one of the components that helps the Good News Rescue Mission maintain a $4-million to $6-million operation on a $1.5 million budget. “Volunteers are a big part of that,” White said gratefully.
2009 Thanksgiving Banquet volunteers
“We couldn’t stay open,” said Janet Shields, the Mission’s volunteer coordinator, if it weren’t for what she affectionately calls “free employees.” At the mission, volunteers serve food, but also write grants and provide data entry, guest services and mentoring.
According to Shields, there are a number of opportunities to volunteer at the mission – opportunities to contribute time and sweat equity without putting a strain on your budget.
The Good News Rescue Mission is gearing up for Christmas, a “mirror image” of its Thanksgiving festivities, plus clothes distribution, and a bike and toy giveaway for the mission’s younger clients, White said.
The pie buffet at the 2009 Banquet
Meanwhile, there is still plenty of time to lend a hand and get creative — without trying to host 1,200 people at your Thanksgiving table. Opportunities to assist local food banks and non-profit organizations abound and extend well beyond the holidays.
Here are a few organizations that could use some of your time and talents:
Acorn Community Enterprises – Round Mountain – (530) 337-6736
Anderson/Cottonwood Christian Assistance – Anderson – (530) 365-4220
Fall River Mills Community Food Pantry – Fall River Mills – (530) 336-5304
Good News Rescue Mission – Redding – (530) 244-6810
Living Hope Ministries – Redding – (530) 243-8066
People of Progress – Redding – (530) 243-3811
Redding Loaves and Fishes – Redding – (530) 241-1108
Salvation Army – Redding – (530) 222-2207
Shingletown Emergency Food Pantry – Shingletown – (530) 474-4220
Shasta Senior Nutrition Program – Redding – (530) 226-3071
Shasta/Trinity/Tehama HIV Food Bank – (530) 223-2118
Solid Rock Foursquare Food Pantry – Burney – (530) 335-4300
Tri County Community Network – Burney – (530) 335-4300
Twin View Church – Redding – (530) 241-0551
Valley Christian Fellowship – Redding – (530) 243-7479
If your organization is missing from this list and need some help, please post contact information in a comment below.
Adam Mankoski is a recent North State transplant who feels completely at home here. He enjoys experiencing and writing about the people, places and things that embody the free spirit of the State of Jefferson. He and his partner own HawkMan Studios and are the creators of Redding’s 2nd Saturday ArtHop. Email your NorthState weekend events to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This portrait of Adam Mankoski was created by Shasta High School students Chance Norman and Kenzi Bell.
A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of anewscafe.com.