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Hundreds receive free bag of Thanksgiving food at San Bernardino giveaway

Bags of Thanksgiving food courtesy of Molina Healthcare in San Bernardino were distributed to nearly 300 families on Saturday, including many that Ramon Velasco helps with other necessities throughout the year.
Velasco, principal at Juanita Blakely Jones Elementary School, where the giveaway was held, said he and volunteers from Cal State San Bernardino, Molina and other local organizations spread holiday cheer this weekend to low-income families, homeless people and others down on their luck.
“It was a great day to take care of some families,” Velasco said.
A line of people wait outside Juanita Blakely Jones Elementary School on Saturday, Nov. 11 for a bag of free Thanksgiving food courtesy of Molina Healthcare. (Photo courtesy of Molina Healthcare) Nearly 300 bags stuffed with Thanksgiving food were distributed to San Bernardino families on Saturday, Nov. 11. The giveaway was sponsored by Molina Healthcare, the Tzu Chi Foundation and Helping Hands Pantry and held at Juanita Blakely Jones Elementary School. (Photo courtesy of Molina Healthcare) Show Caption of Expand
Families began lining up at the elementary school two hours before the giveaway was scheduled to begin. Others wandered over while the crew was packing up.
Bags contained fresh fruit and produce, as well as canned and boxed goods. The Tzu Chi Foundation and Helping Hands Pantry were partners.
Leftover bags were given to Velasco to hand out at a later date.
“The food that we distributed together is going to make a difference,” said Ruthy Argumedo, Molina associate vice president of community engagement, “whether it’s a child not going hungry for the night or a family that’s able to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal together.”
In his six years at Jones, a K-6 school of 430 with a high low-income student population, Velasco said he has seen the character of the community shine through difficult circumstances.
As many as 110 students at the school are either homeless or live in foster care, the principal said. Many of the rest share rooms and/or houses with a dozen others.
Some Jones families don’t have money for gas, electricity and other utilities. “However these kids,” Velasco said, “they keep coming to school with a smile. You see them around my school, and you’ll never know the circumstances they live in.
“It’s beautiful to see.”
Saturday’s giveaway marked the start of giving season at Jones. Next month, Velasco will reprise his role as Santa Claus and gift toys to students.
“They’re teaching me more than I could ever teach them,” he said.

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