Three San Martin families and a popular neighborhood market joined together to help bring Thanksgiving feasts to hundreds of people in need.
Rocca’s Market General Manager Dan Keith helped to arrange the donation of 200 turkeys to St. Joseph’s Family Center, based in Gilroy, earlier this week.
The effort began when Ed and Julie Sattler, Rob Miner and Keith wanted to contribute some cash for a wholesale charity turkey purchase just before Thanksgiving. Keith told the Sattlers and Miner that he would match their contribution, and use the grocery store’s account to buy the birds at bulk cost.
Ed and Julie Sattler—whose daughter works at Rocca’s—have been donating fresh produce from crops grown on their property to St. Joseph’s for many years. They have donated thousands of pounds of fruit and produce to the nonprofit organization over the years.
This year, they ran out of produce before Thanksgiving, but still wanted to help for the holiday, when families are struggling even more due to the Covid-19 pandemic and related economic impact. The Sattlers called St. Joseph’s to ask what the needs were, and were told that small chickens or turkeys were in demand for holiday meal baskets.
Together, Keith, Miner and the Sattler family ponied up enough cash to buy about 200 birds from distributor UNFI. They all met at Rocca’s on Nov. 17 to accept the mass turkey delivery, which they loaded onto Keith’s truck for transport directly to St. Joseph’s Family Center.
“It’s more of a donation from the community,” Keith said modestly. “All of us are big on the community of San Martin.”
In true community fashion, Keith even enlisted the help of another San Martin resident—Mark Siderits—who owns a forklift, which he drove to Rocca’s to help load the turkeys as soon as the UNFI truck arrived Nov. 17.
Miner said he simply wanted to help people for the holidays during such challenging times.
“There’s a lot of people in need and we have been blessed, so why not help,” Miner said.
Julie Sattler added that the family’s giving efforts have been a “family tradition” since their daughter, Lydia, was little. Their goal has always been to impart the values of charity and generosity to their daughter.
“We’re blessed to have what we have,” Julie Sattler said.
Vicky Martin, Director of Community Engagement for St. Joseph’s Family Center, said the need for food for local families has grown tremendously since the pandemic started. Before March, the center was serving up to 100 clients a day with food boxes. Recently, they have been serving between 500 and 600 families daily. Next week, with the holiday approaching, Martin said St. Joseph’s staff and volunteers are planning for 2,000 or more families per day to visit the center.
“We’re seeing new faces every day as we move back into the purple tier, and jobs are at risk,” Martin said.
She added that the turkey donation from the San Martin locals goes a long way.
“This allows families to have a holiday that they would not normally be able to afford this year,” Martin said.
St. Joseph’s Center’s mission is to “alleviate hunger and homelessness in South Santa Clara County by providing food, housing and employment related services, and advocating for system changes to improve the quality of life for the most vulnerable people in our communities,” reads the Gilroy-based nonprofit’s website.
St. Joseph’s runs a food pantry that provides food baskets to low-income families, and serves hot meals to the area’s homeless three days a week. The nonprofit also provides emergency utility assistance, performs homeless outreach and offers other services to the less fortunate.
For more information about St. Joseph’s Family Center and its programs, visit stjosephsgilroy.org.