The City of Cotati and the California Homemaker’s Association (CHA) are teaming up for the fourth year to hold a holiday food drive, benefiting those in need all throughout Sonoma County.
The partnership between the two groups started in 2014 when then Cotati mayor John Dell’Osso (now a Cotati City Councilmember), connected with CHA who wanted to team up with the City of Cotati to facilitate a county-wide holiday food drive. They undertook the effort that same year and have been working together on the project every year since. The team of more than 25 volunteers assembles a “Christmas meal in a box” that is then hand delivered to families in need. This year the assembling and delivery of boxes will occur on Dec. 23 in a classroom behind city hall in Cotati.
“I got the city involved because I thought this was a very worthy cause,” says Cotati City Councilmember John Dell’Osso. “Especially with what this county has gone through recently, it just feels so good when you can do something for somebody that just doesn’t have as much as we do. That’s a critical mission of every jurisdiction out there.”
The boxes include ingredients needed for a Christmas dinner including turkey, ham, or chicken, non-perishable items, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables – much of it donated by local stores.
“Oftentimes I’ve asked and worked with Oliver’s Market here in Cotati,” says Dell’Osso. “They’ll donate six boxes, 50 pounds each, of carrots or apples, things that don’t easily get bruised. It’s not just food going to those who are in need, it’s nourishing food too – really healthy stuff.”
Dell’Osso recalls a local rancher delivering a crate two years ago full of fresh spaghetti squash.
“When I’m talking about a crate, it came off a stake bed truck,” says Dell’Osso. “It was probably a box that was three or four feet tall and at least six feet square around. I’ve never seen so much spaghetti squash in one location! You just never know what may show up.”
Over the past several years the group has delivered over 100 boxes every year, and given the recent fire disaster, they expect the count to be higher this year. In past years they have driven the meals from Petaluma to Healdsburg, as well as to various rural areas in the county. The individuals receiving the meals are asked to sign up in advance through CHA.
The California Homemakers Association is an independent, private self-help membership association built by and for in-home care workers, service workers, and others who are low-income. It is an all-volunteer organization and organizes benefit programs year round to deal with immediate needs. Local merchants, professionals, students, congregations and other individuals support projects while CHA members organize for permanent solutions to poverty conditions.
“They [CHA] work year-round, they don’t just do the holiday food drives,” says Dell’Osso. “It’s a great organization – all volunteers that work there. Many people who have been down and out end up even working there in the office so it really comes full circle. I applaud them for what they do. Every year since we started it I’ve been interested in continuing that partnership.”
Volunteers are still needed to collect necessary supplies and assemble and deliver holiday food boxes. To volunteer, donate food, or for more information, call the California Homemakers Association at (707) 591-9573.