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“Operation Gobble” lends help to Barstow residents in need

Staff Writer

BARSTOW • When faced with uncertain employment outlook and a tough economy, accompanying concerns can be difficult to let go of, even if only momentarily. “Operation Gobble” is lending families and individuals in Barstow some help this Thanksgiving.

Initiated in 1990, “Operation Gobble” is an initiative orchestrated by Golden State Water that donates some 230 turkeys, split evenly, to local charitable organizations, Holiday Meals and Desert Sanctuary.

Deede Crigler, co-chairman of Holiday Meals and executive director of the Barstow chapter of United Way, has seen need in the community “totally increase” over the last six years, especially since the recession.

“Everyday I get phone calls at the United Way,” Crigler said, “with people looking for food, shelter, gas — everything.”

Unemployment in Barstow is approximately 15 percent, or nearly twice the current national average of 7.9 percent. Also, 15.6 percent of families and 20.3 percent of individuals in Barstow live below the poverty line.

Peggi Fries, executive director of Desert Sanctuary, has also noticed the need rising.

“The increase in the number of people involved in case management and requesting services for Catholic charities has easily increased three-fold in the last six years,” she said.

Golden State Water, who will donate 100 more turkeys from just a few years ago, dropped off the turkeys to be donated at Morgan Meat Co. until they are delivered to local families.

On Nov. 17 pre-qualified families of four or more people can pick up baskets of turkey, corn, green beans, cranberry sauce, mash potatoes, rice and beans at the Barstow Senior Center.

On Thanksgiving morning, 150 to 300 volunteers made up of seniors, adults and children will assemble 1,200 hot meals in the span of two or three hours to be ready for delivery.

Fries has observed a recent trend in the volunteer dynamic.

“What I’m seeing is that people who are helping us with the holiday meals are actually receiving holiday meals,” she said. “People are trying to become a part, to give back, to even help with things they are receiving.”

Golden State Water will serve 75 customer service areas throughout California over the next two weeks.

Anyone in need of shelter, clothing and food should call 211 for locations in the area where such services are available.

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