This December marks the sixth year that the City of Cotati and the California Homemaker’s Association (CHA) are teaming up to organize a holiday food drive, including delivering the food boxes to residents in need all throughout Sonoma County and beyond, just in time for Christmas.
The California Homemakers Association, a membership association built by and for in-home care workers, services workers, and others who are low-income, organizes benefit programs year-round to deal with immediate needs. The all-volunteer organization, together with local businesses and other organizations, aims to support permanent solutions to poverty conditions.
“We think about this in Cotati a lot, at the city council level,” says John Dell’Osso, Mayor of Cotati, who originally helped spearhead this event in conjunction with the CHA. “We don’t have facilities to house people, especially in inclement weather in the winter-time, for those who are homeless. But there are a lot of people who have a residence but are struggling mightily in so many ways. This is one way we really try to help people out.”
This year’s “Christmas meal in a box” event will be held Sat., Dec. 21 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in a classroom behind city hall in Cotati. Volunteers are needed in various capacities, including picking up food donations, assembling the boxes and delivering the boxes to families. Volunteers can choose one or more capacities with which to help.
“There are a couple different levels of volunteerism,” says Dell’Osso. “You can just show up. If you want to bring things, that’s fine – they [CHA] will never not take anything but they typically come with gobs of stuff. We fill up at least eight long folding tables in that classroom with fresh fruits and vegetables, some canned goods, frozen turkeys, frozen hams. It’s really incredible. It’s all healthy and nutritional. Putting the boxes together is one level of volunteering. The other part of it is the driving to these people.”
Much of the food items are donated by local stores and some also comes from local farms and individuals who want to help. Typically, the organization assembles about 120 to 130 boxes per year.
“It’s not just for people in Cotati and Rohnert Park,” says Dell’Osso. “It’s Santa Rosa, Petaluma, sometimes Napa County, Lake County. They go far and wide.”
For Dell’Osso, the feeling of giving back more than makes up for the time and inconvenience it takes to get the job done.
“The feeling of giving back to somebody, to the greater community, is what I like best about it,” says Dell’Osso. “That’s the whole reason I’ve been on the city council for 13 years. I have no aspirations for higher office, my only concern was to give something back and make the community a better place. That’s what I still strive to do. I enjoy doing it because it’s all about giving back.”
To volunteer or for other information about the event, contact John Dell’Osso at email@example.com.
The Ca. Homemakers Association is accepting donations of toys at the Community Voice office between 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. at 100 Professional Center Dr., Suite 110, Rohnert Park.