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Grocery store programs a big help to Fallbrook Food Pantry

The gift of giving is what makes the holiday season so very special. And despite the global economic turmoil, the Friendly Village has come together to support the Fallbrook Food Pantry.

Tremendous fundraising success was achieved over the Thanksgiving holiday thanks to Major Market and Albertsons in Fallbrook teaming up with the Food Pantry.

In the two weeks prior to Thanksgiving, Major Market raised an impressive $4,600.

“At the time of purchase, customers decided if they’d like to donate $1 or $5 to the Fallbrook Food Pantry,” said John Alarcon, Major Market store director. “We collected the donation amount on [top of] their purchase.”

When a customer made a donation, a slip was filled out and hung from the ceiling over the cash registers. As Thanksgiving drew near, it was raining certificates at Major Market.

Vanessa Hickerson, a bilingual (Spanish) cashier at Major Market, was in the fundraising forefront.

“Vanessa was the top producer, and on average, raised $150 every shift she worked,” said Alarcon.

Due to Hickerson’s bilingual ability and enthusiasm, Latino customers offered their support to the effort.

The fundraising drive continues as Christmas approaches. Alarcon is hopeful that additional monies will be raised, since they have more time to collect donations in the Christmas promotion.

“Now we have a month, so hopefully, we should do quite well with this one,” he said.

Alarcon believes the reason this fundraiser has been a grand success is because the money raised is staying within the community.

Fundraising activity at Albertsons during Thanksgiving equated to donations of more than 60 turkey and ham dinners. These “Turkey Bucks” tallied up to $2,700.

“We want to raise this amount again in ‘Santa Bucks’ for Christmas,” said Kim Newman, store director.

Like Major Market, a customer has a choice of gifting $1 or $5 at checkout.

This year, Albertsons has created a nationwide holiday fundraiser called ‘Feed a Family.’

It was Newman who approached her corporate office and asked them to consider giving money to the Fallbrook Food Pantry in lieu of the North County Food Bank.

“The money will stay in our community,” explained Newman. “We will do anything we can to wrap our arms around this Fallbrook community. Helping means a lot to us.”

Jean Dooley, board member of the Fallbrook Food Pantry, is delighted how supportive Major Market and Albertsons and their customers have been.

“Just the fact that they support us is number one,” said Dooley.

When she approached Sam Logan, owner of Major Market, Dooley had no idea how much participation would be offered.

“Sam is great all the time; it’s not just now, but every time that I go to him for help,” said Dooley.

According to Dooley, Major Market has been a strong supporter of the Food Pantry for many years, including donations of food items that are nearing their expiration date.

And when Albertsons called the Food Pantry, Dooley said the organization was very thankful for their support.

What started out as providing a turkey to needy families over the Thanksgiving holiday has evolved into much more, Dooley said.

Cash that has been raised will be used to purchase nutritional, perishable items.

“We will be able to buy food supplies that we don’t get donated,” noted Dooley.

Although a $1 donation may not seem like a whole lot, it truly does go a long way when everyone pitches in.

The donated funds will also help everyday expenses and keep the Food Pantry moving forward during these rough economic times.

On average, $8,000 is required to keep the doors to the Fallbrook Food Pantry open each month.

A rise in clients has also mounted due to economic hardships.

“For the year end in November 2002, we took care of 9,191 clients,” said Don Luallin, executive director of the Fallbrook Food Pantry. “For the year end in November 2008, that number raised to 21,290.”

The Fallbrook Food Pantry is supported by the community and, in addition, works on securing grants to helping feed the needy.

Supermarket fundraisers provide significant assistance to the program.

“We are so fortunate that we live in the Friendly Village,” said Luallin.

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