Fall is food gathering season for local charity

By: Martha Garcia, Loomis News Editor
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While most people are just now putting away Halloween decorations and thinking about Thanksgiving, organizers who feed the hungry at Christmastime have been planning for weeks. Sherrie Doupnik Edgar, volunteer director of the Loomis Basin Christmas Basket program, said Kids Can boxes have been delivered to Loomis Basin elementary and high schools so that students can donate canned goods that will go into boxes distributed in December. “The elementary schools last year collected 10,832 items. Del Oro and Rocklin High collected over 6,000 items,” Edgar said. She said collections from the schools amounts to over 90 percent of food donated. Students at H. Clarke Powers Elementary have turned the food drive into an annual community project, according to eighth-grade teachers Laurie Balsano and Sarah Tavernetti. “We’ve been doing it for at least seven years,” Balsano. One of Powers students is Clay Moore, who said everybody at the school participates. “We try to raise 500 cans from the whole school,” Clay said. His classmate Drew Lamora said he likes to help because the project is for the entire town. “These cans go directly to families in Loomis,” Drew said. Tavernetti said students like to donate to the project because Loomis is such a close-knit community. “It’s a way for kids to support local Loomis families,” Tavernetti said. Because food boxes will actually go to families in Penryn, Newcastle and Rocklin, as well as Loomis, Edgar said there is great need for donations of non-perishable food from everyone in the community, not just students. “The way the economy is this year, any contribution of any kind will be greatly appreciated,” Last year, Edgar said, 283 families received food boxes and toys. “Everyone keeps telling me the need is going to be greater this year,” she said. The Loomis Christmas Basket program has become a family affair for the Doupniks. While three generations of Doupniks have been in charge of the all-volunteer effort for eight years, Edgar said they would like to expand the committee. “We continue to get more volunteers from service organizations involved in the organization of the program,” Edgar said. Gary Doupnik Manufacturing clears out its Rippey Road warehouse during November to make room for piles and pallets of food donations. Then, on Dec. 18, the warehouse will be the site of a “sorting party” during which hundreds of volunteers sort all the canned and boxed food items and fill rows and rows of boxes. Finally, families in need visit the warehouse to receive their box of food and, for families with children, toys for the youngsters. Edgar said this year families will again receive a traditional holiday meal of ham, stuffing, potatoes and gravy. The remainder of the box will be filled with items from the food drive that students collect through Kids Can and donations made by community members. Jennifer Doupnik, Edgar’s sister-in-law, is in charge of toy collection and distribution. “The age group that is in need of the most donations is 12- to 17-year-olds,” Doupnik said. Doupnik said these older kids like school supplies, personal hygiene items, gift cards and clothing. In electronics, they like alarm clocks, CD players, and books. “The girls like purses, the boys like wallets. We’ll probably have 600 kids again, so anything will help,” as long as its new, she said. Families in need who live in the 95650, 95658, 95663, 95765 and 95677 ZIP codes who have not submitted a Christmas basket application have until Dec. 10 to return the form to Doupnik Manufacturing at 3237 Rippey Road in Loomis. Application forms can be picked up at the Doupnik office, the Loomis Chamber of Commerce, and at the Loomis News or Blue Goose Produce in the fruit shed. Donations of toys and non-perishable food items can also be made now at Blue Goose Produce, the Doupnik warehouse, or at the Loomis fire station beginning Nov. 26. Those wishing to make monetary donations can make checks payable to Loomis Basin Baskets and mail them to P.O. Box 687, Loomis, CA 95650.