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Local charities gear up for holidays

BARSTOW • With Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, local charities are stepping up their efforts to make sure Barstow’s needy are fed and children of low-income families get to enjoy gifts. Here’s how you can help:

Holiday Meals Thanksgiving Basket Food Drive • In addition to distributing turkey dinners on Thanksgiving, volunteers with Holiday Meals will be assembling and giving out food baskets to families of four or more.

According to program director Mark Sielski, volunteers will be putting together 400 baskets for Thanksgiving and another 400 for Christmas.

For the food baskets, Sielski is asking the community for stuffing mix, canned sweet potatoes, corn and green beans, corn bread mixed cranberry sauce and bags of rice and pinto beans. The baskets will be distributed at the American Legion at 31040 Armory Road from 12 to 8 p.m. Nov. 23.

Golden State Water Company will be donating 128 turkeys for the food baskets. Barstow’s representative in the state assembly, Connie Conway, will be donating 100 turkeys. The County Board of Supervisors will be donating between 20 and 25 turkeys and Sielski said he will be purchasing the rest.

Donations can be taken to the Barstow Senior Center at 555 Melissa Street in Barstow. Arrangements can also be made to pick up the items by calling 760-267-2151.

Holiday Meals • Volunteers will assemble and deliver roughly 1,200 meals to Barstow residents on Thanksgiving Day. This also includes those who do not have access to a phone to request the meals.

Sielski is also trying to reach about 100 families with soldiers at Fort Irwin living in Barstow hotels because of a lack of housing on Post to offer them a meal. He will also be food baskets to 25 families actually living at Fort Irwin, he said.

“We’re all part of the same community and I want to make sure that Fort Irwin feels included in the things that happen in Barstow because we’re symbiotically linked,” Sielski said. “By at least giving 25 meals we can make a small dent.”

Sielski also predicts that Holiday Meals volunteers will serve another 1,200 meals on Christmas. In addition to giving out meals, volunteers also distribute hygiene products like toothbrushes and soap.

Holiday Meals volunteers will be working from 8 a.m. until about noon on Thanksgiving. Volunteers are asked to bring two dozen cookies and a bag of candy. To request a meal, call 760-252-1513. For more information on volunteering, call Sielski at 760-267-2151.

Straw Hat Pizza’s Thanksgiving Dinner • Last year restaurant owner Jeff Eason Jr served more than 900 meals at Straw Hat Pizza on Thanksgiving. This year he thinks he and his volunteers will break 1,000. Meals will be buffet style from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“Last year it was a total of 35 turkeys, 30 hams and 60 pounds of prime rib, plus all the side dishes,” he said. “We have everything from our PAL (Police Activities League) kids to transients to seniors. Everybody’s welcome.”

People can bring donations of food to Straw Hat Pizza at 1930 East Main Street between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Thanksgiving.

Desert Manna Ministries • Desert Manna is asking the community for donations of frozen 20-pound turkeys, milk and ingredients for stuffing for its Thanksgiving feast. The shelter also seeks donations of coats and canned goods for its coats and cans drive as well as unwrapped toys for its kid’s Christmas party.

The shelter is also having its annual matching campaign. An anonymous donor will match any donation of up to $5,000, said Sheri Randolph, the shelter’s executive director. The campaign began Nov. 1 and will last through Dec. 20.

Food and monetary donations can be taken to the Desert Manna Ministries at 209 North First Avenue.

Christmas Cops and Kids •  Christmas Cops and Kids will be distributing toys to needy children in Barstow a few days before Christmas, said Barstow Police Sgt. Tim Heiden, who founded the program. Several thousand dollars in donations are needed to be able to distribute toys in the Barstow area, and organizers are hoping to expand back to the county areas again.

“As it stands right now due to the financial situation, we’re focusing on Barstow and the immediate surrounding area,” Heiden said. “I know we’re going to make it and I know we’ll be successful.”

Christmas Cops and Kids volunteers will travel to the Los Angeles area to pick up basketballs, footballs and soccer balls. Volunteers will also be collecting toys outside of Walmart on Nov. 26. Between five and 17 groups will deliver toys just before Christmas.

Donations of cash or checks can be sent to Tim Heiden at the Barstow Police Department at 220 East Mountain View Street, Barstow, CA 92311. Toys can also be taken to the Barstow Police Department.

Representatives for Toys for Tots were unavailable for comment Monday.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4123 or

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