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Local services bridge gap for needy

By: Leah Rosasco Loomis News Correspondent
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Choosing between buying food or paying rent can be terrifying, but local groups can provide relief during the holidays and beyond. According to Maggie McNaught, pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Loomis, people facing economic hardships are forced to make difficult choices for their families. She said the church, through the Loomis Basin Food Pantry, provides rice, soup, dry goods, and canned food to families in need living in Rocklin, Loomis, Penryn and Newcastle. People need help with rent, she said, but the Church doesn’t have those resources. McNaught advises families to pay the rent rather than spend money on food. “We can always find the food,” she said. Thanks to the generosity of the community, McNaught said, the Food Pantry is well-stocked this year. Families in need can also access Maggie’s Market Street Pantry. The food program is run by Elite Associates, a food brokerage owned by Loomis resident Bill Nicholas. The program, named for Nicholas’ beloved Golden retriever, who recently passed away, is in its second year and serves 43 families from the Sacramento area, according to Dona Leal, company office manager. “We have people who come from Davis, Sacramento, Loomis. They come from all over,” she said. The choices of food vary because it comes mainly from the brokerage business, Leal said. “Sometimes there’s more meat, sometimes there’s less. It just depends on what’s available.” Company employees contribute milk, eggs and cereal to the Pantry. Maggie’s Pantry will also host a Christmas Dinner again this year for families in need at noon, Dec. 17, at the Arena Christian Center, in Sacramento. Last year 125 people were served, Leal said. “Santa and his reindeers even made an appearance,” she said. Other issues, besides finances can make the holidays a tough time of year. Struggling with depression, anxiety, grief or loss can make it difficult for people to move forward with their lives, according to Angela Ponivas, executive director of Lighthouse Counseling and Family Resource Center, in Lincoln. In order to help people “get to the root of the issues” Lighthouse provides free counseling services to area people with no healthcare or mental health coverage. With 10 counselors on staff, Lighthouse provided counseling services to 659 people last year, focusing on empowering them with coping and life skills to help them become active members of the Community. “We help people to strengthen on the inside,” Povinas said. Lighthouse also provides toys and food to families during the holidays. “Not having enough during the holidays can be depressing,” Ponivas said. The Gathering Inn, in Roseville, helps the homeless by providing shelter during the winter at churches throughout Placer County. The organization also helps those in need by providing clothes, medical care and access to career and financial resources. Their Clothes Closet, open to the public 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Wednesday and Saturday, provides free clothing to 80 families per week, according to Suzi deFosset, executive director. “We have been fortunate in people donating clothes,” she said. The Gathering Inn runs a health clinic from 9:30 a.m. to noon, Saturdays, that provides adults and children access to a doctor for non-emergency, health issues. Gathering Inn volunteers also help people access resources for jobs, housing, and financial aid. According to deFosset many people don’t know what kind of help is available to them because they’re in a new situation. “It is not a nice experience to go through,” she said. “It’s scary.” All of these organizations that assist those in need accept donations. INFO BOX SERVICES FOR THOSE IN NEED Loomis Basin Food Pantry: 10 a.m. to noon, Mondays; and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. 652-0469 Maggie’s Pantry: 285-6546 Lighthouse Counseling and Family Resource Center: 645-3300 The Gathering Inn: 791-9355 MAGGIE’S PANTRY CHRISTMAS DINNER What: Christmas Dinner and Santa visit for families in need Who: Maggie’s Market Street Pantry When: Noon, and 2 p.m., Sat. Dec. 17 Where: Arena Christian Center, 4027 N. Freeway Blvd., Sacramento RSVP or more information: Dona Leal, 285-6546