Central Coast residents to lend a helping hand Saturday

10 hours ago  •  Erin Lennon / elennon@santamariatimes.com

The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County will get some welcome donations and assistance Saturday as part of this year’s Central Coast Helping Hands event, which will send volunteers to a number of projects in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.

Volunteers will collect and sort food donations as well as paint the Santa BarbaraCounty food bank’s 100 collection barrels and repackage bulk foods, from 8:30 a.m. to noon at St. JosephHigh School in Orcutt. Food can also be dropped off and sorted at ArroyoGrandeHigh School.

“The great thing about what’s happening this Saturday is that people will have a venue to come out and help, especially during the drought,” said Darlene Chavez, community leadership manager for the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County. “We’re not getting as many donations of fresh produce, and that kind of pinches our wallet a bit.”

As California’s drought continues to drive up produce prices, the food bank’s expenses are expected to increase by $200,000, making it tougher to provide for its clients and its more than 300 nonprofit partners. The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County served more than 100,000 people last year, providing food assistance to one in four county residents.

Helping Hands has also partnered with the San Luis ObispoCounty food bank and the 5 Cities Homeless Coalition.

“Even if people can’t stay and help us sort or do other projects, if they can just drop off food, that’s great too,” said Darren Hulstine, president of the Santa Maria California Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Hulstine’s group has hosted the Central Coast Helping Hands event for about eight years.

Organizers have scheduled a number of other projects to keep community volunteers busy both nearby and in San Luis ObispoCounty. Those interested can help with repairs at St. Joseph’s High School, the DunesCenter and the Historic Jail in Guadalupe. Organizers will also send volunteers over to the AbelMaldonadoCommunityYouthCenter to take part in Serve Santa Maria Day, an annual day of local community service.

In San Luis ObispoCounty, participants can help with landscaping and maintenance projects at the Arroyo Grande Women’s Shelter and the ArroyoGrandeCommunityGardens.

For more information, visit centralcoasthelpinghands.org or call 714-2901.