Just as she has done the past five years, Kim Mitchell spent the night in the Manna House parking lot. Mitchell is caregiver for her 76-year-old mother, as well as five grandchildren, ages 1-16.
“If I’m first in line, I can get in and get out so I can hurry home to take care of my mom and the baby,” Mitchell said. “I slept in the car, had to turn the heater on four times ... still I would wake up freezing throughout the night. I won’t be doing this next year ... someone else can be first in line.”
While she wasn’t hunting for any specific toys for the children, she said they would be grateful for anything they received. “God is good all the time, and that’s what Manna House means to everyone in this town.”
This year, 458 children were signed up for toys and 301 families signed up for meals in Tuesday’s Manna House Christmas give away. The Marine Corps League Griswold Mountain Detachment delivered about 1,300 toys from the area’s Toys for Tots drive, with the bulk of food purchased at discount from Raley’s and Grocery Outlet Bargain Market.
Santa took a break from the hectic craziness of his North Pole workshop to stop by, hand out candy canes, and have youngsters whisper last minute gift wishes in his ear.
“When you’re retired and on social security like my husband, Ray, and I, you gotta do what you gotta do,” said Debbie Lambert, who waited in the food line for a couple of hours. “Manna House means everything to us. I’ve sent people here who needed help, clothing and food. Manna House is awesome ... we’re blessed to have something like this in our community to help those in need.”
Santa’s elves were kept hopping assisting attendees, handing out turkeys and chickens, dropping foods in grocery bags, and helping select special gifts for children. Kym Malnik hunted for a warm coat for her 34-year-old son. Alma McDonald searched for a piece of costume jewelry for her granddaughter. Serina Simmons and her 15-year-old son, Joseph Bissegger, not only picked up food for their family of six, but for another family of seven who couldn’t attend. “This means the world to us,” McDonald said. “My husband’s pay was cut by $2 an hour. It was either accept the cut or find another job.”
“When I got here at 6 a.m., there was a line outside, and it was freezing. It’s hard times for many people,” said Marcus Gonsalves, a Sierra Vista Presbyterian member who has volunteered as security for four years. “I’ve seen them leave here with a smile on their faces and feeling much better ... It’s such a blessing to see Manna House continue their work.”
“What’s great about Christmas is that it’s more about giving than it is about getting,” Food Manager Bruce Bartlett said. “The community has truly blessed Manna House with offerings of donations and food that have been passed on to those in need.”
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.