Mom Talor Dolzadelli straddled 11 month-old Damian in one arm, while carrying a bag filled with enough food items to prepare a Thanksgiving feast. Her daughter Maribel, 4, waited patiently at her side. Just up ahead was a bin filled with chocolates, flavorful temptations to those of all ages. Dolzadelli said she’s getting enough to feed a family of six, and wouldn’t know what she would do without Manna House.
Gladys Williams spent Thanksgiving alone this year. “You can tell the workers here care and are very compassionate. I’m on SSI and don’t get food stamps so this means a lot to me.”
Shawn Mesa worked as a server and store manager in Fresno before moving to the Mountain Area. He has been jobless for more than a year. “Manna House helps us out so much,” he said. “I have five to feed at home, including two children, 8 and 9, so I’m very grateful for all the help I can get.”
Mike Hannon, 59, has been living in the back seat of his truck since June and hopes to move into one of the apartments reserved for the area’s homeless. He said he’s donated and volunteered at Manna House in the past, and tries to help out the homeless who are worse off than he is.
The appreciative recipients watched as dozens of Manna House volunteers handed out chicken, dry goods, fruits, vegetables, breads, pastries, and chocolate to the 271 who had signed up for the annual food giveaway the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Radiant smiles were everywhere - on the faces of those receiving and those giving.
Coarsegold Elementary School student Mikey Joice, 14, carefully placed heads of cabbages in open grocery bags. Mark Tuck, a retired Ford worker, carried groceries to waiting vehicles, calling his two years at Manna House a way to give back.
“Today is evidence of the blessings we have received,” food manager Bruce Bartlett said, observing the orderly activities. “I really have to thank the community. They are so giving - from the individuals to the bell ringers to the merchants to those coming up to me to ask what they can do to help ... the abundance of food and great weather has made everyone feel good.”
“I’m not Manna House,” director Tom Nicolulis added. “The volunteers aren’t Manna House. The board of directors aren’t Manna House ... it’s you, the community ... and the loving kindness that has allowed us to continue to serve those in need with dignity.”
One of those benefiting from the generosity was Tara Terceiro, who collected groceries to make a special holiday meal. She was accompanied by her best friend of three decades, June Clausen. It was a very emotional Thanksgiving for the pair. Terceiro, who lives on SSI/disability, lost her significant other in August and will soon return to the Riverside area to live near her children and grandchildren.
“This was my last holiday in the mountains,” Terceiro said, giving her friend a huge bear hug. “Now, don’t get me started,” Clausen whispered, fighting back tears.
“For the time I’ve been here,” Terceiro added, “Manna House has truly been a blessing from God.”
Sign ups for the Manna House Christmas food and toy giveaway begin Dec. 1 and run through the 19th, with the giveaway scheduled for 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., Dec. 20.
About Manna House
Manna House has been meeting its mission to minister to those in need with dignity for decades. It was founded in 1982 for the specific purpose of providing a Christian emergency food and clothing bank to the needy.
The non-profit organization can be found on Facebook and donations, which are tax deductible, can be made through PayPal.
Details: Manna House, (559) 683-6262.