H.O.P.E. prepares 240 Christmas food boxes for families

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H.O.P.E. (Helping Other People Every Day) is a USDA Certified, non-denominational food bank on the premises of St. Irenaeus Church in Cypress.  It distributes food to needy families on the first and third Saturdays of each month.  H.O.P.E. will have its largest distribution of food to over 200 families who are registered with the H.O.P.E. Food Bank on Saturday, Dec. 15 from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.

H.O.P.E. (Helping Other People Every Day) is a USDA Certified, non-denominational food bank on the premises of St. Irenaeus Church in Cypress.  It distributes food to needy families on the first and third Saturdays of each month.  H.O.P.E. will have its largest distribution of food to over 200 families who are registered with the H.O.P.E. Food Bank on Saturday, Dec. 15 from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.

I have been a member of St. Irenaeus Parish since 1965, but I saw, for the first time, how much work is involved with preparing for H.O.P.E ‘s Christmas food distribution. I was amazed at seeing how well organized everything was on Dec. 8, when volunteers came to help fill 240 boxes and 50 bags with food. About 35 volunteers worked from 7 or 8 a.m. until about 10 or 11 a.m., depending on when they arrived to work or helped to set up or clean up.

Under the direction of the day’s chairman, Mary Ellen Oves, everyone followed an assembly line to fill neatly arranged boxes with tons of food. The boxes were filled according to the size of families from one to three, four to six, or seven or more people. Everything was well organized so that each box was filled with a variety of different types of food, including flour, rice, pasta, sugar, cereals, canned foods of vegetables and meats, pancake mix, syrup, cakes, boxes of Jello, and even packets of chocolate drinks and pop corn. Volunteers had come the night before to set up all the food and boxes in order for distribution.

When I asked Bob Sgobba, H.O.P.E. chairman of the board, where all the food came from, I learned that H.O.P.E. purchases some of the food from Second Harvest Bank of USDA and also receives some food donations from Second Harvest. Sgobba said that there are some businesses that donate food to the Food Bank twice a month. Twice-monthly donors of food include Costco, five Pizza Huts, Olive Garden in Cypress, Starbuck’s at Valley View and Lincoln, Chipotle Mexican Grill and Spaghettini’s in Seal Beach. Food is also purchased with funds that are donated by individuals and groups such the Knights of Columbus.

H.O.P.E. is grateful to all these businesses for their support.  H.O.P.E. also appreciates all those who supported its Annual Fundraising Dinner at Knotts Berry Farm this year. The proceeds from that dinner and monetary donations from individuals and groups allowed H.O.P.E. to purchase additional foods that are needed for a balanced diet for families.

Dee Vincenti, a volunteer who is in charge of the regular monthly distribution of food at the H.O.P.E. Food Bank, said that H.O.P.E. receives donations of canned goods from many of the schools in the community. The schools which have held canned goods drives for the Food Bank this year include Arnold Elementary School, Kennedy High School, King Elementary School, Los Coyotes Elementary School, and St. Irenaeus School.  In the past, Luther Elementary School and Miller Elementary School have donated canned goods to H.O.P.E. to help those in need.

Members of H.O.P.E. also had a toy drive for children in November. Thanks to the generosity of St. Irenaeus parishioners and others, each child of families registered at the H.O.P. E. Food Bank will receive a toy for Christmas along with the families’ boxes of food.  Volunteers were invited to come and help wrap all the donated toys a few days before Dec. 15.

Sgobba anticipates that many more volunteers will come to help distribute the Christmas food boxes and bags on Dec. 15 from 8 to 10 a.m. He hopes that they will continue to come and help every month in 2013.  Help is always needed for preparing the bags of food for families on the third Fridays of each month from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and on the last Saturdays of each month from 8:30 to 10 a.m.  Help is especially needed on the first and third Saturdays of each month from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. for the actual monthly distribution of food.

For more information about helping H.O.P.E., contact Bob Sgobba at 714-994-0743, or President John Lewallen at 562-795-5192.

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