Merced Realtors give $15,000 to food bank

The Merced County Food Bank is a little richer thanks to a donation from a Merced group.

The Merced County Association of Realtors Charitable Foundation donated $15,000 to the Merced County Food Bank on Tuesday.

President Skip Hinman said the organization of real estate agents wanted to help the less fortunate. “It’s painful to know people are living day to day,” he said.

The foundation raises money every year during two auctions, one in the spring and the other near the end of the year. Members of the foundation gather donated items for bids taken from throughout the community and the proceeds benefit local charities, Hinman said.

Last year, 4.2 million pounds of food passed through the Merced County Food Bank, which sells its food at a discount to other organizations who feed the hungry, said Executive Director Bernadette Mello. The food bank, 2000 W. Olive Ave., works with organizations in Merced and Mariposa counties.

Mello said the number of people who need assistance is growing and resources are scarce. “It is through private donations like these that keep us going,” she said.

The donation will go to buy food to stock the warehouse and to the senior brown bag program, Mello said.

Twenty-one sites throughout the county provide bags of groceries to thousands of seniors. The program ensures that needy seniors are not forced to choose between buying food or paying for rent, utilities or medications, she said.

For questions about the Merced County Food Bank, call (209) 726-3663.