It’s a weekly occurrence at the Holy Family Church Giving Bank in South Pasadena where long lines – socially distanced, of course – form and the donations and gratitude pour out.
Volunteers in the community are glad for the opportunity to help the disadvantaged, and those waiting their turn are thankful for the support they receive.
“It’s just a great thing the church does,” acknowledged Bob Joe, who recently left his seat as South Pasadena’s mayor, and was among those lending a hand Monday, watching the appreciation from those receiving the gifts and the generosity of volunteers making life better for others, especially during a pandemic.
Just before the two year-end major holidays, organizers at the giving bank make it just a bit more special for recipients who receive a little something extra. Above and beyond, turkeys are typically on the list at Thanksgiving, and recipients this time around were given pork tenderloins to rejoice Christmas.
Over a span of about four hours this week more than 300 individuals came through, graciously accepting bags full of food.
“We’re a lot more careful now with the coronavirus, making sure people don’t touch anything and are safe,” said Joe, who has chipped into supporting the food distribution effort for at least the past 10 years. “It’s very unique thing that we do here in South Pasadena.”
Marlene Moore, the director of Community Services at Holy Family, said through generous donations the church was able to purchase the pork tenderloins for this year’s Christmas giveaway. In addition, Trader Joe’s donates daily to the food bank with support also coming from Grocery Outlet, Pizza Hut, Panera restaurant and Farmers to Families, a national program that provides fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat products to food banks, community and faith-based organizations, and other non-profits across the nation.
Holy Family parishioners, community members and other supporters outside the city help make sure food and nourishment is provided the underprivileged by making financial donations.
“Anyone can donate online at Holyfamily.org,” said Moore. “People have also been mailing in checks. The community support has been great. We’re able to feed the numbers that have slowly and steadily increased (since COVID-19 hit). We’ve never had to turn people away because we’re out of food.”
Excess items following the weekly giveaway at Holy Family, noted Moore, are shared with other food bank agencies in the San Gabriel Valley.
On Monday with a big crowd on hand, safety protocols were followed as shopping carts were used for the distribution effort. Once individuals presented identification, usually in the form of a driver’s license – required by the government – a cart full of food rolled away. After it came back to the line, a person’s I.D. was returned, completing the transaction.
Used carts were quickly disinfected, wiped down by volunteers “and process started all over again,” explained Moore, saying it’s “a social-distanced way” of providing food with so many minds on the coronavirus these days. “This works. It’s safe for the volunteers, staff, and for our clients.”
While Holy Family is known for its generosity year-round, the church’s giving practices reach a higher level of humanity and unselfishness during the holiday season when so many could use an extra boost. “We’re giving back to those who need help the most,” said Joe. “It’s important to support others at a time of need.”