Christina O'Haver, The Union Democrat

Mother Lode food banks are still short on items for next week's Thanksgiving distribution events, which feed thousands of area residents each year.

The Amador-Tuolumne Community Action Agency Food Bank is preparing bags of food for about 2,000 families expected to attend the distribution event Friday, according to food bank Director Lee Kimball.

The organization still needs cranberry sauce, pie filling, stuffing mix and money to purchase meat, she said.

"We're in the homestretch … every can counts," Kimball said.

The food bank also needs to prepare another 2,000 bags for the Christmas distribution in December, but its supply will be cleaned out after Thanksgiving - a challenge the organization faces each year.

Kimball said the food bank has been stashing items donated throughout the year to distribute during Thanksgiving but will only have a few weeks to gather the same amount of food for Christmas.

The organization will have to purchase the items it does not collect through donations.

In mid-October, the food bank set up about 100 donation boxes around Tuolumne County, which will remain out until the new year.

Donations can also be taken to the food bank at 10059 Victoria Way in Jamestown from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Kimball said the food bank can always use more helping hands in addition to food.

The food bank has 1,044 volunteers, with a little over 800 volunteering on a regular basis. Volunteers accumulated more than 25,000 hours of service last year, according to Kimball.

"Honestly, Tuolumne County is the best and I mean that," she said.

Jordan's Food for Kids, a food drive held last weekend by the family and friends of deceased firefighter Jordan Reyes, netted about 300 grocery bags worth of food, Kimball said.

The Resource Connection Food Bank in Calaveras County is expecting to serve about 900 families at Thanksgiving and 1,300 at Christmas, according to program Director Jeannie Hayward. Both events are part of the organization's Santa's Express program.

The food bank is short about 340 turkeys for its Thanksgiving distribution Tuesday.

Other items needed for Santa's Express include packaged gravy, cranberry sauce, dry pasta, canned tomato products, shelf-stable microwave meals, rice, canned veggies, canned soup, tuna, boxed stuffing mix, dry beans, canned fruit, boxed dessert, peanut butter in plastic jars and instant mashed potatoes.

For Christmas, the organization is also requesting new toys for children under 11 years old and new clothing, particularly jackets and sweatshirts, for ages 12 to 17.

About 50 or 60 bins were placed at businesses, schools, community buildings and stores around the county in mid-October and will remain out until the Christmas distribution.

Donations can also be taken to the food bank on 206 George Reed Drive in San Andreas from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Hayward said tickets are still available for the inaugural Santa's Express fundraising dinner Saturday, which will be held at 6 p.m. at the Calaveras County Fairgrounds in Angels Camp.

Admission is a new toy for the Christmas distribution and $20, with $10 covering the cost of the meal and the other half benefitting the program.

The family-friendly event will also include live music, a silent auction and a raffle.

People interested in purchasing tickets can call 559-2733.

The food bank is also holding its "Stuff the Bus" event Saturday, where the Resource Connection, Calaveras Transit and Mother Lode residents will team up to fill a bus with food donations.

The food drive will be held at Save Mart in Angels Camp and Mar-Val in Valley Springs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"We can't do this without the support of our community," Hayward said. "It's 100 percent community funded and we appreciate everybody's support."

The Resource Connection distribution events will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Nov. 20 and Dec. 20 at the food bank. Toys and clothing will be available at Mountain Oaks School in San Andreas during the Christmas event.

The ATCAA distribution events will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 16 and Dec. 23 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 19481 Hillsdale Drive in East Sonora.

ATCAA is no longer accepting applications for the Thanksgiving distribution but people who have missed the deadline can apply at the event after 2:30 p.m. to receive leftovers.

Applications to receive food at the Christmas event are available at U.S. post offices throughout Tuolumme County, the food bank in Jamestown, the ATCAA office at 427 Highway 49 in Sonora, and regular food distribution sites, which can be found at or by calling 984-3960.

Today is the last day to apply for the Calaveras County Thanksgiving distribution but applications for Christmas will be accepted through Dec. 14.

They are available at all of the organization's locations, including the food bank, and the Calaveras Works and Human Services Agency. For a list of the Resource Connection's sites, visit or call 754-1257.

Sonora Regional Medical Center also has set a goal of collecting 10,000 pounds of food during its annual Food for Families drive to help families in need for Thanksgiving.

A drive-up donation station will be set up at the hospital's main entrance at 1000 Greenley Road in Sonora from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m., 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday and from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday.

The donated food will be distributed in time for Thanksgiving, so holiday-related food items are appreciated, although any nonperishable food will be accepted.

Donations will be divided among the Amador-Tuolumne Community Action Agency Food Bank, Interfaith Community Social Services, Adventist Community Services and the Red Church Pantry.