20 Aug 2014
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Patch Instagram photo by kendregg_lamar
Patch Instagram photo by kendregg_lamar
Patch Instagram photo by kendregg_lamar
Patch Instagram photo by strawbemmy

Thanksgiving Grocery Giveaway at Jubilee Christian Center

It shined. Then it rained. But 1,000 people gained.

About 1,000 families will enjoy a complete Thanksgiving dinner, thanks to the efforts of  Jubilee Christian Center in Alviso. 

A line formed well before the anticipated start time of Saturday's annual , in spite of the cold and developing rain.

Individuals had signed up for the grocery distribution well in advance, and some families weren't able to take part, because the list was full two weeks ago.

Many of the people who participated have been through difficult times, having lost their jobs or homes.  

Milpitas Patch spoke with some of the recipients, volunteers and staff members of Jubilee Christian Center. 

Gail Wright, local resident: "I heard about this through my neighbor and about the food pantry on Friday. They help people who are unemployed. There's a lot of neighbors in the area, asking for help. It's my first time coming to the Thanksgiving Giveaway. Nice to see the people all coming here. It's going to be for my husband, my son and me."  

Olivia Lucero, local resident: "I heard from my church. They give out groceries here once a week. It's my first time. I've been laid off for almost two years. My company downsized, and I had the least seniority. This will be for my mom, myself and grandkids. My mom does the stuffing, and I do the turkey, ham and the pies."

Loretta Zopien, volunteer: "Our church asks for donations, and those donations go to help buy the food to be received at the giveaway. We have a pantry where anybody can come and receive food. It doesn't matter what church you belong to, you can come over here and get some food. I love helping people; it's my way of giving and helping these people. I know how they feel, and it makes me feel good that I've helped." 

Loretta said she has no problem being out in the rain.

"I've been doing this for five years, and I'm always out here in the rain, losing my voice," she said with emotion.

Standing in the rain, she greeted the arriving people, kept the line moving, always smiling, and answered any questions that came up as people stood in line.

Rick Chavez, Jubilee media producer: "Jubilee just celebrated their 30th anniversary in November. There are about 100 employees and 1,000 volunteers involved with Jubilee. Many people who used to donate, making yearly salaries of $80K to $100K, are now asking for help. We are all one day away from being in that position."

Michelle Bernal, pastor: "We are giving away 1,000 meals today. Meals include turkey, yams, potatoes, corn, green beans, cranberries and other donated stuff.  Jubilee has been doing this for five years at this facility.  The turnout is quite amazing. We have more volunteers this year than ever before—over 200. We all want to serve the community. In the past, the families who came to this event were low-income families; today, that is not the case. Many people here have lost their houses, their jobs, and they need a little hand."

Mary Arreola and friends are local residents.  Volunteer, Gloria Lee, helped Mary fill her grocery bag and walked with her to the car, in the rain, with her friends.

"We will walk with Mary to her car, and we will pray there before she leaves," said Lee. Before Mary drove off, the group formed a circle, holding hands as a prayer was led by Tracey Ramirez, also a volunteer.  

The day began clear and sunny. Then, true to the forecast, it began to rain. But the weather didn't put a damper on the warm smiles, swift activity and high spirits of the giveaway. 

As one of the volunteers, Gloria Lee, fittingly put it, "Rain won't stop us."

Jubilee's Christmas Giveaway is Dec. 18. Register to volunteer or sign up to receive a donation  online.

A list of local holiday drives can be found .

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