Governor Schwarzenegger greeted families who patiently waited outside Catholic Charities on Wednesday. They carted off enough food for a holiday meal, including turkey and vegetables.
Balloons for the kids helped raised the spirits of families who face gloomy times.
Olivia Calistro of Fresno said, "There's not a lot of work. Me and my husband we're on a fixed income, whatever he brings in. All the holiday food helps."
The governor said, "They all know tomorrow will be a day of eating and they will not be left out."
The need for public assistance in Fresno County is growing at a staggering rate. The number of families receiving food stamps under the SNAP program has risen from 56,574 to 69,698 in the last year. That represents a 23-percent jump.
Ju lie Hornback of the Fresno County Employment and Temporary Assistance Department explained, "Our County currently has 176,000 men, women and children on food stamps, SNAP, in our county."
The governor spent an hour handing out some of the 300 turkeys to needy families. He said, "I think the important thing they should know that there is always people out there who are generous, that believe in serving the community."
This pre-Thanksgiving lunch hosted by the Word Community Church and two others in Southeast Fresno was a perfect example.
Entire families, grandkids and all, appreciated the traditional feast. Chouana Heu of Fresno said, "It just really gives me hope and joy. Hey, the world's not bad even though we're at a bad time right now."
The luncheon was able to serve 500 meals.