BARSTOW About 1,200 servings of ham, potatoes, and salad are on the Barstow area's menu for Saturday as volunteers for Holiday Meals prepare to help needy families for its Easter event.

Volunteers from around the area will be coming to the Barstow Senior Center early Saturday morning to help prepare meals, hygiene kits, and special treats for needy residents from Newberry Springs to Helendale. The program has already reached its capacity of 1,000 meals, but an extra 200 meals will be delivered by the Police Activities League to residents in the Barstow area who may not have access to phones or do not know about Holiday Meals, said Holiday Meals chair Mark Sielski.

Sielski said that he expects about 200 volunteers for the event this year, and welcomes more to come by and help Saturday morning. He is also looking for more donations of hygiene products, such as travel-size bottles of shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, and deodorant.

While many of the area hotels used to be able to provide most of the hygiene products and the kindergarten class at Henderson Elementary recently did a hygiene product drive, the program has gotten so large that more donations are still needed, said Sielski.

Sielski said many of the children who participate have a lot of fun with Holiday Meals and about 40 percent of the volunteers are under 25. Even children as young as two or three-years-old help out, said Sielski.

"If a child can walk and hold something at the same time, they can participate," said Sielski.

Sielski hopes to be able to help more residents with the Holiday Meals program, but said the Senior Center just isn't large enough to prepare more meals. While the Thanksgiving and Christmas events had extra food baskets to give out to families, Sielski said there wasn't enough time this year to prepare the baskets.

Sielski said he is always proud of resident's efforts at every Holiday Meals event.
"Anytime there's a need, people really come together and meet that need," said Sielski.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4122 or kjonas@desertdispatch.com

Easter Holiday Meals
Families welcomed to participate
Barstow Senior Center, 555 Melissa Ave.
Saturday, April 23 from 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Please bring plastic eggs and Easter-themed chocolate
Items still needed: Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothpaste, toothbrushes, bars of soap, dental floss, and deodorant
Donations can be dropped at the Senior Center between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Thursday and from 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Friday