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SJC Rotary Food Drive

Thanksgiving food is collect for families serving at Camp Pendleton.

SJC Interact club collecting food at Pavilions.

Working with our sponsored Interact club members, we collect food for needy families in San Juan Capistrano and for Marine families at Camp Pendleton.

SJC Rotarian Carol Daderian, DDS recollects her experience…

Let me take you to a Thanksgiving food drive from many years past. I was a new member and It was my first time attending a Rotary club event.

I was assigned to Vons store on Camino Capistrano and it was my job to ask the holiday shoppers for food. The food was being donated to needy families that were identified through the Capo school system. The families were specifically invited to come to the distribution spot at San Juan Elementary and pick up a complete holiday meal. Any unclaimed food, plus some specifically gathered in addition, went to the 1-11 Marine’s families.

Anyway…that’s the background, here’s the story: It was a beautiful San Juan Capistrano Day and was the Saturday before Thanksgiving. All the good SJC Rotarians were out in force asking for food donations. I was in misery. I hate asking for anything. I have never asked for food. I want to die. I am so much out of my comfort zone that I might as well be on another planet. But there I stood, flyers in hand, asking for food.

Some folks were polite and took one, some were generous and some weren’t. Some didn’t want to make eye contact. To top it all off, I had to work with KIDS. (PAL Students volunteered for the event. That stands for Principal Assistance League.) I’m a single person, never had kids… and my past experience with children had either been in my dental office (they’re usually scared to death of me) or in a restaurant with some screaming child wailing to get out of there!

Oh, and there was that time on a long flight with the kid behind me kicking my chair for five hours. Long story short, these PAL Students were AWESOME. They were unlike any child that I had ever met! They were polite, helpful, hardworking, and who could possible turn down one of those sweet kids when they asked for food donations?

So, along comes this lady shopper with her husband and two small kids. She politely took the handout flyer and went into the market. She reemerged about 30 minutes later with all her holiday shopping done. She reached into her loaded basket and pulled out a small bag. Her kids pushed the basket to me. They donated an ENTIRE SHOPPING CART of food.

I didn’t even know what to say to her. “Thanks” seemed too small of a comment in the face of this generosity. I really couldn’t believe it. She told me that they had been a recipient of food from us a couple years ago when times were really bad. They were in a much better place now and they wanted to help another family in need. We parted company and I don’t know who they were, but I will never forget them. Still makes me want to cry.

I do not hesitate to volunteer for these events anymore. The rewards far outweigh the pain.


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