Foothill Unity Center Shares Holiday Cheer at First of Two Major Food Distributions

Volunteers from Claibourn School escort clients’ carts to their cars at Foothill Unity Center’s 2013 Thanksgiving Distribution in Ayers Hall at the Los Angeles County Arboretum.California American Water donated turkeys, plus the trucks and volunteers to transport and hand them out, at Foothill Unity Center’s 2013 Thanksgiving Distribution in Ayers Hall at the Los Angeles County Arboretum.PCL Construction presented a $5,000 check at the event. Left to right: Center Board President David Steinmeier, PCL’s Janine Tejeda and Chris Stanfill, Center Executive Director Betty McWilliams, PCL’s Sandra Arroyo and unidentified friend.The pie table was a popular stop at Foothill Unity Center’s 2013 Thanksgiving Distribution in Ayers Hall at the Los Angeles County Arboretum.Smiles were the order of the day at Foothill Unity Center’s 2013 Thanksgiving Distribution in Ayers Hall at the Los Angeles County Arboretum.Clients were issued timed tickets to keep the flow smooth during Foothill Unity Center’s 2013 Thanksgiving Distribution in Ayers Hall at the Los Angeles County Arboretum.Carts with food boxes prepacked by number of family members await clients at  Foothill Unity Center’s 2013 Thanksgiving Distribution in Ayers Hall at the Los Angeles County Arboretum.Each family’s cart was escorted around the tables by a volunteer at Foothill Unity Center’s 2013 Thanksgiving Distribution in Ayers Hall at the Los Angeles County Arboretum.

STAFF REPORTS

11:25 am | December 3, 2013


Some 1,240 Foothill Unity Center clients received a generous helping of community caring at the agency’s annual Thanksgiving Distribution on Saturday and Monday, November 23 and 25. The event took place in Ayers Hall at the Los Angeles County Arboretum in Arcadia (Saturday) and at the Center’s Monrovia and Pasadena locations (Monday). Clients came from across the agency’s eleven-city service area — Pasadena, Altadena, South Pasadena, Arcadia, Sierra Madre, Monrovia, Duarte, Azusa, Baldwin Park and Irwindale.

Clients took home holiday food boxes sized by number of people in the family, with meat and the makings for a festive holiday dinner. Over 800 volunteers worked on the program, from planning and preparation to final cleanup. Each client cart was personally escorted through the distribution by a personal volunteer. All participants received Thanksgiving cards handmade by local school children. 300 turkeys were donated, trucked in and distributed by California American Water Company, while representatives of PCL Construction were on hand to present a $5,000 check.

Less than a month after this event, families will receive festive food boxes again at the annual Holiday Distribution on Saturday, December 21, and Monday, December 23. At the Arboretum event on Saturday, reserved for families with children, each family will also take home an opaque bag pre-packed with new toys and clothing for each child. The presents are donated through the Center’s Angels program, which invites individuals and groups to adopt paper angels hand-decorated by community volunteers of all ages. Written on each angel is one child’s gift wishes.

“We don’t give the presents to the children,” says Center Executive Director Betty McWilliams. “Gifts for each family’s youngsters are gathered in an opaque bag that’s given to the parents so they can wrap and give them as part of their own holiday traditions.” At the event, children will also enjoy fun activities and a chance to share their wishes with Santa.

77% of the Center’s clients are at or below the National Poverty Level. “The holidays are an especially difficult time for families who fight hunger every day,” says Center Executive Director Betty McWilliams. “The difficult economy and cuts in the CalFresh food stamp program are swelling the ranks of local people who need help to feed their families. Community support is more vital than ever — both to help them and to let them know their neighbors care.”

The Center is seeking donations of food, funds and volunteer time for the Holiday Distribution. Funds may be donated securely online at foothillunitycenter.org. Food and checks may be dropped off weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at either Center location at 415 W. Chestnut Ave. in Monrovia or 191 N. Oak Ave. in Pasadena. Information on volunteer shifts, most-needed food items and the Angel program is available at foothillunitycenter.org/holiday-distribution-programs or by calling the Center at (626) 358-3486. Photos of the events can be viewed in the online Photo Gallery.

Just Part of a Year-Long Hunger Fight

The Thanksgiving Distribution is only one piece of the Center’s year-round Family Food Program, which provided over 3.6 million pounds of groceries to food-insecure clients last year. Each month, clients receive a grocery cart of food items, sized by number of people in the family to supplement needs for 7-10 days. They may return to pick up perishable food items once a week, including fresh produce, dairy and baked goods. The Center also delivers monthly food packages to qualified homebound senior and disabled clients, and gives 50 to 60 substantial bag lunches (enough for about two days) three times a week to homeless or those who have no place to store or cook food. Its volunteer-run Pet Food Bank helped 726 families keep their pets last year.

In addition, the Center provides referrals to over 100 organizations for crisis and housing assistance, employment counseling, and much more. Its Health Services Child Health Connection program connects children with urgent health care needs to free and low-cost care, helps uninsured clients enroll for low-cost insurance coverage, and conducts health screenings and education seminars. It also operates a Medical Outreach Clinic in partnership with the Community Health Alliance of Pasadena (ChapCare) providing health and dental care to homeless and uninsured adult clients.

About Foothill Unity Center

Founded in 1980, Foothill Unity Center is the primary provider of food, case management/crisis help, and access to health care resources across eleven San Gabriel Valley cities in Los Angeles County, California. As the federally designated Community Action Agency for the Foothill Area, we operate two locations, in Monrovia and Pasadena, serving clients in Pasadena, Altadena, South Pasadena, Sierra Madre, Arcadia, Monrovia, Bradbury, Duarte, Azusa, Baldwin Park and Irwindale. 77% of clients are at or below the National Poverty Level. The number of people served by the organization has more than tripled over the last five years, making community funding and volunteer support more critical than ever. For more information, visit foothillunitycenter.org.