More than 300 Chandler families received Thanksgiving food staples Tuesday at the San Marcos Family Resource Center as part of its holiday outreach.
Community members struggled out the door of the center, their arms loaded with grocery bags nearly bursting with fresh turkeys, rice, beans and other necessities.
Many community members said they wouldn’t have been able to celebrate the holiday without the center’s help.
“It’s going to really help the kids,” said San Marcos Elementary School parent Clara Esparza.
Her family has seven children to cook for and without the bags of groceries they received, their Thanksgiving table would have been a sparse one.
The resource center, located at San Marcos Elementary and run by the Chandler Unified School District, gives food to families in need yearround. During the holidays, it is supported by several organizations and businesses such as Toyota Financial Services, school student councils and Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.
More than 350 turkeys were donated this year by the organizations — twice the amount of last year’s food drive, said Susan Horan, resource development project director for the district.
While their parents waited in line for food, children lined up to meet Santa Claus, worked on art projects and played in the grass. Community members were also invited to pick up donated clothing, which was spread out over school lunch tables in the cafeteria.
Santiaga Matamoros, who lives near the school, said she heard about the turkey giveaway and hoped it would help with her holiday dinner.
“I didn’t have the money to buy a turkey,” Matamoros said.
She said her family still planned to have the meal, but didn’t think they’d have the meal’s usual centerpiece.
Basha High School student Kristin Zervas and some of her Air Force Junior ROTC classmates helped recipients carry their loaded bags of groceries to their cars.
The 14-year-old said she will appreciate Thanksgiving a little more this year.
“It’s all about helping our community,” she said. “I know all of us are having better thankfulness ... just to see the kids faces.”