Charity, help exemplify hope

Rescue missions, shelters prepare for holiday influx


Denis Perez / The Advocate

Richmond resident Christa Zizi (right) receives bread from Concord volunteer Steve Dasovich at the Bay Area Rescue Mission’s Food & Distribution Center on Friday.

By Roxana Amparo, Associate Editor

As the holidays approach, local nonprofit organizations prepare their donations and annual feasts to open doors to community members in need of holiday delicacies.

Local food banks distribute food and strive to satisfy the needs of their low-income community members who may not have enough to eat.

“We see an increase in community support during the holidays with more food drives and fundraisers than any other time of the year,” Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano Communications Coordinator Rachel Braver said.

Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano Office Coordinator Lauren Strouse said, “We would not be able to feed all the people we do just through donations.”

The majority of goods they receive are from United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Wal-Mart and other donors depending on where the food banks are located.

The Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano is providing holiday meals for its community members at its three locations — Concord, Fairfield and Oakland.

Strouse said the difference between holidays and non-holidays is that it is the main season for food drive pick-ups.

During Thanksgiving, turkeys are donated to be given to the local members of the community.

“We are always helping people. We give them a place to stay and provide them with meals,” Darrell Olson, Bay Area Rescue Mission’s manager of Food & Distribution Center said.

“We are getting a grant to buy 1,500 turkeys for Thanksgiving,” he said. “We will have tickets available.”

To qualify for a turkey, applicants must be of low-income and provide an ID.

If they do not meet the requirements, the mission will work with them, Olson said.

“There is the risk of constant scams,” he said.

The annual Thanksgiving banquet will take place at the Richmond Civic Center where volunteers will help serve lunch on Nov. 25.

Olson said there will be canned goods, sweet rolls and rice as part of the Thanksgiving pantry.

He said organizations like the Association of Gospel Rescue Mission (AGRM), a nonprofit organization that provides emergency shelter, food, youth and family services, education and job training, can be found all over the Bay Area and change lifestyles for members of the community.

Braver said, “The food bank provides food to one in eight residents of Contra Costa and Solano counties. We do that through direct programs and partner agencies like pantries and soup kitchens.”

She said during the holidays they provide an additional 30,000 households with food to make special holiday meals.

“This is in addition to our regular food distributions to over 190,000 people each month,” she said.

Local food banks provide donated goods to pantries on a daily basis and during holidays to create a welcoming environment for families or individuals to feel at home.

Concord volunteer Steve Dasovich said his life changed drastically since he started getting involved with Bay Area Rescue Mission in Richmond.

“I am in recovery,” he said. “I used to use drugs and I am trying to change.”

Dasovich said he is attentive to individuals requesting bread, tortillas and other available food items.

Richmond resident Christa Zizi said she will return to collect Thanksgiving goods.

She said she has been picking up food from the local mission for three years.

“It has greatly impacted my life,” she said.

Patrick Davis, director of Men’s Ministries at the Bay Area Rescue Mission, said they receive food from Trader Joe’s, Safeway and Costco among other stores to have something to give to locals during the holidays and non-holidays.