With heartfelt wishes of “Merry Christmas”, hearty handshakes and mutual exchanges of “God Bless You”, the hardworking crew at South Pasadena’s Holy Family Giving Bank embraced the grace and gratitude of the season. The Giving Bank distributes meats (including USDA items), produce, canned and packaged goods to those in need every Monday (9am – 10:45am), usually serving about 250 citizens from South Pasadena and surrounding areas. For this holiday, as they do each year on Thanksgiving and Christmas, they serve close to 350.
Director of Life, Justice and Peace, Marlene Moore, who has been with Holy Family for 12 years, 7 of those as director, tells us, “because of generous donations from our parishioners, we’re able to purchase the fresh produce (mostly from Select Fresh in Los Angeles) and with donations from our great partner, our local Trader Joe’s, where we pick up 7 days a week, we are able to do this for the community.” She shares any extra food with other organizations. As a part of Los Angeles Food Bank, Holy Family participates in Feeding America through them, so there are brown bags of food items that are provided by them with weekly deliveries on Tuesdays.
Before the pandemic, they had begun offering a Farmers Market with stands where people could shop and bag themselves but the pandemic found them pivoting to the current method of loading grocery carts that people pick up, take to their cars and bring back. Moore polled the people and they all agreed to stick with this new method for the foreseeable future and they expressed that in fact they like it this way.
“My desire, and I’m really happy, when the food is waiting for the people,” explains Moore, “I think there is dignity in not having to wait in a long line for your food, so we do our best to have everything ready to go for them.”
While speaking to Moore, one of the volunteers came up and told her he had received boxes and boxes of donated holiday decorations which Moore says they can be given as part of their gifts to their “Adopt a Family” program through Our Lady of Guadalupe.
“While I’m sorry that this is necessary,” says Moore, “I’m glad that I’m here in this community representing our parishioners and our community partners – this isn’t mine – this came from a whole bunch of people working together. It thrills me that we can all come together and work as a team to serve those in need.”
Our newly elected State Assemblymember, Mike Fong, was invited by Mayor Cacciotti to experience the holiday food bank for himself. He was moved and impressed with the operation and all the work he witnessed saying, “thank you to Holy Family for organizing this food distribution for the community, especially for families here that are in need, and really providing them that sustenance, that nutrition to make sure they have nutritious meals for the holidays. I’m very grateful to Holy Family Church, Trader Joe’s, and all the organizations that are partnering with Holy Family Church to provide for hundreds of families in the community.” He went on to say, “thank you to all the South Pasadenans for stepping up and all the parishioners and everyone for supporting the families here in the community during these very challenging times. I want to wish everyone in South Pasadena a joyous, peaceful and wonderful holiday season!”
Mayor Cacciotti, who attends this every year and volunteers regularly at the Giving Bank, said, “this is an incredible program with incredible volunteers and staff. The people we serve, you can see about 100 people in line right now, they need the food and this is a great opportunity to collect the food from Trader Joe’s and other regional agencies and pass it on. When you see the smiles on the faces of those receiving – when they get to their car, just bringing that food home to their families. It’s very fulfilling for myself, what a great program for the city. About 20% of the residents of our city take advantage of the program and the rest come from surrounding areas, serving over 200 families each week. So if you know anyone who needs food, who needs help, send them over to Holy Family Food Bank on Mondays. If you know anyone unhoused, they give lunches every day at 11am to anyone who comes and knocks on the back door.
Holy Family Church Giving Bank is located at the St. Joseph Center across the street from Holy Family Church at 1524 Fremont Avenue – the brick building on the corner of Oak Street in South Pasadena. To inquire about donating or volunteering contact Director Marlene Moore (626) 403-6141.