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United Food Bank collecting meals for the holidays

Ginny Hildebrand

There’s something about the holidays that can make every child, every adult, every family smile: their holiday traditions. Imagine Thanksgiving and the holidays growing up. All the aromas that filled your house: turkey, mashed potatoes, yams, green bean casserole, pie. Think about a family member telling stories about what the holidays were like when they were younger, or maybe you watched football and rooted for a specific team.

Unfortunately, for the more than 228,000 food-insecure people in United Food Bank’s East Valley and eastern Arizona service area, creating traditions like these is usually out of reach. Turkeys or hams alone are expensive, but adding all the ingredients for other side dishes makes it even more difficult. Suddenly, creating a once-a-year experience becomes a dream for families that barely have enough food to feed everyone in their household.

As a result, the nearly 93,000 food-insecure kids in the Food Bank’s service area may grow up without experiencing some of the joys of sharing a holiday meal with their family, or maybe there is a fear this year won’t be like last year when luck was on their side. These kids hear stories from classmates whose experiences are filled with joy, but that doesn’t make an experience come to life.

Mesa-based United Food Bank is estimating this year’s need for turkeys to be around 10,000. That goal, while high, can be reached if the community steps up to the challenge. With the support of members of the community this holiday season, we can help feed new traditions. By donating to the Food Bank, families can help to not only create new traditions for hungry families, but they can also create a new tradition of giving with their families.

United Food Bank will be collecting frozen turkeys and hams along with traditional holiday items like canned cranberry sauce, pie filling, green beans and other nonperishable sides during special collection days at the Javelina Volunteer Annex, 358 E. Javelina in Mesa – just south of the U.S 60 and Mesa Drive.

United Food Bank Turkey Drive collection dates:

Saturday, Nov. 19 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Monday, Nov. 21 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 22 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 23 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

If community members are unable to directly donate turkeys, donations can be made online at www.unitedfoodbank.org or by calling 480-926-4897. Every little bit helps. Just $10 can help provide 40 meals for hungry families in the East Valley and eastern Arizona.

– Ginny Hildebrand is president and CEO of Mesa-based United Food Bank.

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