By David Kligman
SACRAMENTO — Several thousand of Sacramento’s neediest residents lined up around two city blocks for hours this morning (Nov. 25) in anticipation of a Thanksgiving turkey giveaway that PG&E helped make possible.
For the third consecutive year, PG&E sponsored the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services’ annual turkey handout. In addition to a $15,000 donation, about 150 of the utility’s employees provide most of the volunteers needed to bag the frozen turkeys.
“We could not do a single day of distribution like this without the financial and volunteer support of PG&E,” said Kelly Siefkin, the food bank’s communications director. “We will give until we can give no more.”
PG&E’s financial contribution paid for much of the side dishes — all the traditional holiday fixings including boxes of instant mashed potatoes and canned gravy — as well as a refrigerated semi-trailer truck to store the 7,458 turkeys this past weekend, including 200 vegetarian turkeys. That’s the most turkeys that the food bank has given away.
About 1,000 families received the bagged meals every hour.
Every volunteer was needed for the massive job that began in the chilly, early hours of the morning. First they bagged the food. Then, they got a pep talk from Erik Kintzel, the food bank’s food and operations director, who reminded the volunteers to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving.
“We’re giving out smiles and we’re giving out hope,” he told them.
The residents — many of them huddled in blankets — received a ticket and exactly at 8 a.m. walked one by one to receive the holiday meal. First in line was David Trejo, who arrived at 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon.
“I got out of church and came straight over here,” he said.
When asked what receiving the food means to him, he said: “I’m on a fixed income, so it’s really helping me out. I’m not going to lie.”
As the Jackson 5’s “ABC” and other classic R&B songs played, PG&E volunteers greeted the residents.
Father Daniel Madigan founded Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services in the basement of his church in 1976. He has said he was pained to see so many people, including children, go hungry on the streets of Sacramento so he pulled together a small group of volunteers.
Today the food bank has nearly 6,000 volunteers and three facilities where food is distributed to more than a dozen community sites throughout Sacramento. The nonprofit feeds 25,000 people a month.
PG&E’s involvement in Sacramento is just one of the ways the utility and its employees are helping those in need this Thanksgiving. Among the many locations:
- In Modesto, employees teamed with Interfaith Ministries to deliver boxes with holiday meals to homebound seniors.
- Employees in San Francisco packaged food at the San Francisco Food Bank for nonprofit organizations serving low-income families in the city.
- Along the Central Coast, PG&E donated $10,000 and employees from the Santa Maria Service yard dropped off 24 turkeys for the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County. PG&E also donated $5,000 to the Food Bank of Santa Barbara County.
At the Sacramento event, the PG&E volunteers were happy to give back to the community where they work. Carmen Quiroz, a customer service representative who has worked for the utility for 39 years, said she could relate to those in line.
“My parents came from Mexico and we didn’t have a heck of a lot growing up,” Quiroz said. “When I started working for PG&E I knew I wanted to do all that I could to help others.”
Kandice Wackerly, an instructor at PG&E’s contact center in Sacramento, said it was humbling to see the long line of people waiting in the cold for food.
“It just made me thankful and grateful for what I have and for what I’m able to provide for my family,” she said.
Email David Kligman at David.Kligman@pge.com.