Riverside gets involved in ‘Giving Back’

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By Aubrianna Plavajka / Staff Writer, Fatima Ramsey / Staff Writer

Hard at work (Brandon Morgan / Staff Photographer)

By Aubrianna Plavajka / Staff Writer, Fatima Ramsey / Staff Writer

The flyer read, “Giving Back” and that is exactly what some locals decided to do. 

For the last six years, the City of Riverside’s Parks, Recreation and Community Service Department has organized and put on a food drive to help those who are unable to afford a Thanksgiving meal.

First time volunteer, Barbara Campbell, elaborated on the type of items people would be receiving.

“Those in need will be given a turkey, gift bags and traditional Thanksgiving foods,” Campbell said. 

Campbell was part of three generations who attended to give support and to give back to the community. She volunteered with her daughter, Tina Gullage, and granddaughter, Kaylee Tracht.

Others like Terenesha Wave and Lynn McDuffie, both first time volunteers, also made volunteering a family affair.

Wave volunteered after being influenced by her brother and McDuffie was present with her young son.

“My brother told me to volunteer because it’d be fun to give back,” Wave said. “And it really has been.”

  Wave assisted in checking in event attendees at the front entrance.

McDuffie also enjoyed the experience of giving back to her community.

“I like helping people, meeting new people and having fun giving back,” McDuffie said. “I will definitely volunteer again.”

Iliana Mendoza also found fun in giving back. The first time volunteer helped by passing out gift bags.

“It makes me feel good inside to know that I helped put a smile on someones face,” Mendoza said. “I will come back next year and do it all over again.”

Not only was the event significant for those who volunteered, it helps those in need.

Resident, Winil Vaughn, says the help given out to the community by this event is worth coming back for.      

Vaughn is a 65-year-old returning event attendee, who has been receiving Thanksgiving baskets for the past three years.

“This event has helped my family and I for three years now, and we are so grateful for the community,” Vaughn said. “Without them our Thanksgiving wouldn’t be possible. At my age it is hard to be able to afford all the things needed for a decent Thanksgiving, but thank the Lord for the community that blesses us with a big help every year.”

The event not only brings returning members, but as word spreads each year, the attending crowd grows.

Vanessa McGregor is a new resident to California. She recently moved from New York to live with her family members due to financial trouble she was having back home.
McGregor heard about the event from an announcement at her church, that also gave Thanksgiving baskets out.

McGregor had arrived to her church after all of the baskets had been distributed.

A member of the church informed McGregor and other attendees that if they did not receive a basket, they could get one at the Giving Back to the Community event.

“This is my first time coming here to receive a basket for Thanksgiving,” McGregor said. “Everyone here is so nice, not like New York.”

“I appreciate all the help I am receiving from the community,” McGregor said. “They don’t even know me and they are helping me.”

“Giving Back” took precaution against not having enough baskets.

In between dance performances, group exercise and Christmas music, the emcee urged vendors and guests to use their cell phones to call friends and tell them about the event and also to donate anything extra they had to make sure they reached quota.

The Parks, Recreation and Community Service Department will continue their traditional contribution in giving back to the community by bringing smiles to all of those who need an extra helping hand during the holiday season.

Precious packaging (Brandon Morgan / Staff Photographer)

Worth the wait (Brandon Morgan / Staff Photographer)

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