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Project MANA ready for holidays

JEREMY MORRISON, Sun News Service

A small Kings Beach office is becoming a bit roomier with a stockpile of cereals, candy and a variety of canned goods.

Preparing for the annual Let’s Talk Turkey food distribution, workers with Project MANA are busy transporting donated food to their Incline Village warehouse. This year the group plans to fatten the Thanksgiving spread of many North Shore families.

“It’s gonna be close to 300,” says Jenny Morgan, an AmeriCorps volunteer who works with Project MANA.

“Maybe more,” interjects George LeBard, the organization’s executive director. “Right now it’s like the [presidential] election – the numbers are still coming in.”

After gathering food from designated drop-off sites from around the area, Project MANA will distribute the edible goodwill on Saturday. From noon until 3 p.m., predetermined recipients – usually referred by La Communidad, Tahoe Women Services or area schools – can pick up the food at the Kings Beach, Truckee and Incline Village elementary schools.

While the group provides food throughout the year, the annual Let’s Talk Turkey drive focuses on holiday fare.

“We try to gear it more towards Thanksgiving-type stuff, like cranberries,” LeBard says, adding that demand for the group’s services increase during the holidays.

On the average, LeBard says, those benefiting from the food distribution are wage-earning residents who are having difficulty making ends meet.

“This is here as an emergency resource for them, to help them through that time,” LeBard explains.

While frozen turkeys and stuffing will dominate this weekend’s distribution, the rest of the year features a potluck cast. In addition to taking donations from private pantries, Project MANA also relieves area grocers of their overflow.

“Every week we rescue food from different supermarkets,” LeBard says. “A couple of weeks ago they called us and had to move a lot of chicken, on another week it might be something else.”

Although the organization isn’t picky – anything that is sealed and falls within the confines of the expiration date is usually acceptable – there are some items that cannot be donated.

“A lot of people will call and say ‘we had a barbecue and have two big bowls of potato salad left,'” said Christy Wills, of Project MANA. “It’s like, ‘we can’t take that.'”


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