Fresno nonprofits are getting ready for Thanksgiving in charitable ways this year, and there are many ways students can get involved with community service events this holiday season.
Photo courtesy of Convoy of Hope
Convoy of Hope will take over the Fresno Fairgrounds Nov. 23 and provide free medical services, groceries, meals and even family portraits to people in the community.
Convoy of Hope
Thousands of guests from across the community will receive free groceries, health services, haircuts and family portraits on Saturday, Nov. 23 at the Fresno Fairgrounds as a part of the Convoy of Hope community outreach in Fresno.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the faith-based nonprofit will provide live entertainment, lunch, prayer, games and activities for guests.
No identification is required at the event, and all supplies are provided on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Many well-known churches, businesses and community groups are sponsoring and participating in the event. Some include NorthPointe Community Church, Peoples Church, Cornerstone Church, Eye Connect Dots, Community Food Bank and Fresno Building Healthy Communities.
Pastor Rudy Reyna of Cornerstone Church said that his church is getting involved because he said it is important to volunteer with organizations that aim to help people.
“We’ll do anything to help people,” Reyna said. “I don’t care what organization is doing it. As long as we can help people, love people, feed people, take care of them, we want to be a part of it.”
He added that it is also a way to get into the spirit of Thanksgiving.
“We know there’s a greater need during Thanksgiving,” Reyna said. “The average person, the average family, acknowledges that as a time when they come together with family.
“There’s a lot of people who can’t do that, or if they do come together, they don’t have a traditional meal.
“We want to help them come together and get that traditional meal.”
Augie Blancas is the media relations contact for the event. She said she encourages Fresno State students to get involved with the Convoy of Hope.
“We’re looking for good volunteers to stay the entire day, until the last grocery bag is given away,” Blancas said. “We’re trying to bring hope to this area.”
Those who wish to get involved with the Convoy of Hope must attend a mandatory volunteer rally on Nov. 22 at 6 p.m. at the Fresno Fairgrounds. For more information, visit fresno.convoyofhope.org.
Community Food Bank
The Community Food Bank is gearing up for the holidays by preparing 10,000 meal boxes to stave off hunger this season.
Sarah Pedelty, the food bank’s volunteer coordinator, said that volunteers prepare the meal boxes over two weekends, this past weekend and this upcoming weekend.
“We do it because of the high need,” Pedelty said. “We do it every year, and we distribute to a lot of places; places like the Poverello House, Bulldog Pantry, faith-based organizations, community centers and group homes.”
Pedelty said these places are just a few of Community Food Bank’s 180 partner agencies in Fresno, Kings, Kern and Madera counties. As a distribution center, the food bank delivers food to these agencies, which then serve the meals for the holidays.
“They send requests, and we allocate depending on the number of clients that they serve,” she said. “We try to do it as evenly as possible.”
Pedelty said that the distribution center aims to end hunger in the Valley for longer than the holiday season.
“We help people all year round, but during the holidays, it’s a lot more noticeable and public,” she said. “And we have a lot more people that are involved in giving back because they realize it is the holiday season.
“Whether it’s for the holidays or for the regular distribution, we can use volunteers.”
For volunteers looking to put together the holiday meal boxes, they’re too late: the Community Food Bank is at capacity for this coming weekend.
But Pedelty said that volunteers can still help out every business day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The food bank also has Saturday volunteer events on the first Saturday of every month from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The next volunteer event is on Dec. 7.
To get involved with the Community Food Bank, students can contact Pedelty at (559) 237-3663 ext. 106.
The Poverello House is a private, nonprofit, nondenominational organization dedicated to serving the hungry and homeless in Fresno. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner for 40 years, the Poverello House has established itself as a safe haven during the holidays.
“We’re open every single day, especially during the holidays,” said Jessica Munoz, contact office coordinator at the Poverello House. “A lot of places aren’t open, but we serve a Thanksgiving meal here.”
Munoz said that everyone is welcome at the Poverello House and that it is always busy during the holidays.
“We don’t turn anybody away. Until literally the last person is served, we keep serving,” she said. “You’d be surprised at how many people are here, sitting down, eating meals on Thanksgiving. You’d be surprised at how thankful they are that we’re open.”
Munoz said that Fresno State students are welcome and encouraged to volunteer at the Poverello House.
“We understand that there are a lot of people who want to volunteer during the holiday season,” Munoz said. “We welcome everyone.”
Those who want to get involved with the Poverello House must attend a mandatory orientation held Fridays at 3:30 p.m. or Saturdays at 10 a.m. at 412 F St. in Fresno.
Munoz said that once volunteers have completed an orientation session, they are free to volunteer whenever they like.
“It’s so nice to see so many people here getting what they need,” Munoz said. “To be a part of that is special.”