Rotary Donates Holiday Food Baskets to Local Families

Fair Oaks, CA  |  Story by Shaunna Boyd
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Got Milk to Donate? Photo provided by Rotary Club of Fair Oaks

FAIR OAKS, CA (MPG) - On December 20, the Rotary Club of Fair Oaks held their annual holiday food basket donation for local students and their families. Jim Erickson, a member of the Rotary Club of Fair Oaks, explained why he volunteered to lead the food basket project for the second year in a row: “I’ve been in Rotary for about two years, and my primary focus is things that will benefit the local community.”

The volunteers from Rotary started their day at 7:00 AM, picking up food from Sacramento Food Bank and purchasing some additional food items at local grocery stores. From 8:30 AM until around noon, volunteers assembled the food boxes in empty classrooms at Northridge Elementary School.

Local parents and former school employees often volunteer to join the Rotarians for the assembly. With so many volunteers, the work goes quickly and Erickson said it is always a very fun and festive atmosphere. He said, “It’s a fun project. It’s one of those feel-good projects where everyone enjoys doing it and feels good about what we’re doing.”

Food baskets are distributed to approximately 100 families each year. The majority of the recipient families are from Northridge Elementary, and some are from Earl Legette Elementary. Teachers advertise the program through social media and word of mouth, and families are able to sign up anonymously. There are no qualifications needed to participate, families just have to sign up and they will receive food baskets to help them with their holiday meals. Each family receives a frozen turkey and two boxes of food, which include canned and boxed food, fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, and milk. “There’s enough that they can make at least a few meals,” said Erickson.

Distribution began right after school, and families were able to pick up their baskets from 2:30 until 6:00 PM. If families are ever unable to pick up their baskets during that time, the Rotarians will make a special delivery to the family’s home to ensure they receive their food for the holidays. 

Erickson said that this year’s holiday food basket donation was particularly significant because it was the last year the project was coordinated by Marci Ortega, a teacher at Northridge Elementary. Ortega is retiring at the end of the school year after 15 years of teaching at Northridge Elementary. Erickson acknowledged all the hard work Ortega has put into coordinating the food basket donations over the years: “Ever since it started, it’s been her project.”

Ortega said the project is “very near and dear to my heart…and we couldn’t do it without the assistance of Rotary.” She is now training two young teachers to take over the project and she is “so proud of our school.”