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400 attend community feast
Ceres Partnership for Healthy Children sponsors dinner
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Elvira Hill of Ceres feeds her nephew, Zayden Dawson, a bite at Thursdays Community Thanksgiving Dinner at the Ceres Community Center. The event was sponsored by the Ceres Partnership for Healthy Children. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

An estimated 400 from the Ceres community gathered in two sittings Thursday evening for the second annual Ceres Community Thanksgiving Dinner.

The event, sponsored by local businesses and the Center for Human Services (CHS) - Ceres Partnership for Healthy Children (CPHC), was held at the Ceres Community Center.
One sitting occurred at 5:45 p.m. and the other followed at 7 p.m.

Jennifer Rangel, program coordinator of the CPHC, said the dinner gave her a good feeling "allowing us to bring the community together and have a meal together. A lot of them we see at different times, sometimes in crisis and sometimes not. Just being able to invite them all together is nice."

Rangel estimated that three-quarters of those who attended the dinner are recipients of Partnership services.

In past years the Partnership has given out food baskets but decided to host a dinner for the first time last year.
"This was a great effort of many," commented Lourdes Perez of the Ceres Partnership.

A number of sponsors helped make the event happen and the event was open to anyone regardless of income level. Diamond Bar Arena contributed food as did Cost Less Foods. Other sponsors included the city of Ceres Recreation Division, Ceres Chamber of Commerce, Ceres Unified School District and state Senator Anthony Cannella.

A small army of about 20 volunteers attended to tasks like preparing the table, serving food like turkey and mashed potatoes and gravy and clean-up. Jose Saldivar of La Cascada Mexican Restaurant, donated hours cooking the turkey. Kohls Cares, an employee action group, helped out in the kitchen. Project Yes students served serve food.

Raffle of prizes donated by Walmart also took place during the evening.

Those who had dinner were invited to write on construction paper cut out like a leaf for what they were thankful.

A children's activity table was also manned by volunteers.

Center for Human Services (CHS) is a local non-profit providing services to youth and families throughout Stanislaus County. In Ceres, CHS operates Ceres Partnership for Healthy Children, a one-stop shop for families in need. Services offered include school readiness for kids, parenting classes, emergency food and clothing assistance and counseling.