Food donations lag for Rescue Mission

rgiwargis@mercedsunstar.comNovember 17, 2012 

— As the days tick away and the Thanksgiving holiday looms ahead, many Merced nonprofit agencies are still in dire need of donations -- especially turkeys to serve in less than one week.

"I'd normally have about 400 turkeys by now," said Pastor Prapai Wanlarbkam of The Merced County Rescue Mission. "As of today, we have 186 turkeys -- so any donations are appreciated. People can just show up and drop off the turkeys,"

Wanlarbkam said he needs to come up with about 250 turkeys to feed up to 3,000 people by this Tuesday.

The turkeys will defrost for two days prior to being served on Thanksgiving, he said.

He noted that any extra turkeys will be donated to other local charities to help meet their needs. After the holiday, any remaining food will be used to feed people at the mission for the rest of the year.

The Catholic Charities of Merced have received enough turkeys, but it's the trimmings that are missing.

"I'm going to be deficient in canned foods, including potatoes, corn, peas and green beans," said site director Sandra Leon-Alfaro. "I'm hoping I'm going to be OK. I have faith we will be."

Leon-Alfaro said people can drop off canned goods by today or Sunday, which would be enough time to stuff the turkey boxes for less fortunate families.

Folks are chipping in

A community that always pulls together, many Merced residents have already started reaching out to local nonprofits.

"We're getting calls from people wanting to drop off turkeys," said Theresa Tapetillo, director of operations at United Way of Merced County. She added that there is still plenty of need, and they're using social media to spread the word.

United Way also set up two drop-off locations for canned goods, hams and turkeys: one at their office and another at Main St. Girlz Salon at 942 W. Main St. in Merced.

The food will be collected until Dec. 21 and donated to The Merced County Rescue Mission and The Merced County Food Bank.

As an example of the Merced community's generosity, St. Vincent de Paul Society shared some good news -- the organization reached its goal of obtaining 20 turkeys by this week.

"We're going to be able to have Thanksgiving dinner now," said secretary Josie Ricks. "Now we're just trying to keep the store open, as long as we can continue helping people."

Reporter Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or

To help the nonprofits mentioned in the Sun-Star, please contact them below:

The Merced County Rescue Mission

1921 Canal St.

Merced 95340

(209) 722-9269

Catholic Charities

of Merced

336 W. Main St., No. 1

Merced 95340

(209) 383-2494

United Way

of Merced County

658 W. Main St.

Merced 95340

(209) 383-4242

St. Vincent de Paul

131 W. Main St.

Merced 95340

(209) 723-2404

The Salvation Army

1440 W. 12th St.

Merced 95341

(209) 383-4225

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