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Lions Club food, toy drive Friday

GUSTINE – The Gustine Lions Club will be making the rounds Friday evening to collect donations of non-perishable food and toys for delivery to families facing tough times this holiday season.

Through the generosity of a caring community, the Lions hope to bring Christmas to the doorstep of more than 50 families when they deliver the donated items Saturday morning.

For decades, the Lions Club has conducted a holiday food drive to assist those less fortunate. In more recent years, the club has been accepting donations of toys as well as the scope of the annual drive widened.

Club members will fan out across neighborhoods in Gustine and Santa Nella beginning at 5 p.m. to pick up donations of food and toys left on doorsteps (donors are asked to leave porch lights on), said project chair Lynn Schultz. The Lions will make a second round of collections at around 8.

Members and volunteers will spend the remainder of Friday evening sorting and boxing food, wrapping gifts and preparing deliveries.

The club purchases additional items such as turkeys, milk and bread to round out the food baskets.

“This is a very special project for the club, and the community really gets behind this,” Schultz explained.

Donation barrels are also in place at Bank of America and Tri Counties Bank, he noted, and designated stores are drop-off points for toys as well. Those contributions will be picked up Friday, he said.

The generosity of the community has allowed the Lions Club to serve an increasing number of families in recent years who might otherwise go without during holiday season.

Last year, the number of families served exceeded 50 for the first time, Schultz said.

“I think we will be over 50 families again this year,” he reflected. “The economy still isn’t that good, and there are a lot of people who need help.”

The Gustine Lions Club also accepts donations to help offset the expense of purchasing the additional food items, and to purchase gifts as needed to provide for all the children in the recipient families.

“On occasion we have had situations where donated gifts didn’t cover the older children, so we go shop for them,” Schultz explained. “There are a lot of teens we take care of, and if we don’t have something donated for them we will buy it.”

Community members wishing to make a donation to the Lions in support of the project may contact Schultz at 854-6227 or take the donations to the Al Goman Community Center Friday evening or Saturday morning.