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Area's Generosity Shines As Holiday Need Soars

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Businesses big and small open their hearts and wallets

By BVN Staff –

Riverside business owners Albert and Virginia Hines have owned a mobile car wash company for 7 years. Lately the Hines have been washing more dishes than cars. Hit hard by the recession they say they're operating their five vans on a shoestring and a prayer.

"We had to park two vans this week, " Albert said. One van needs tires and engine work, a second needs a new transmission. Can't afford to repair them they say.

That's the least of the Hines' troubles, in June they lost their home. They've already burned through their savings to make ends meet. Virginia works parttime as a dishwasher at a local restaurant. Last month the couple and their children moved in with relatives.

So why are the Hines standing in the middle of a local soup kitchen stirring up a batch of holiday stuffing belting out 'Life's a Happy Song' the opening tune from the new Muppets movie..

"Everything is great, everything is grand. .I got the whole wide world in the palm of my hand."

"No matter how bad things get there's always someone worse off than you," said Virginia. "Of course we're nervous and anxious. Every experience and encounter positive or negative is just God pointing us in the right direction."

Despite their troubles the Hines donated six large foil wrapped pans of prepared vegetables, five turkeys and a check for $100.

"We can't match the big guys, but In our own small way we want to make a difference in someone's life," said Albert.

Their check says Patricia L. Nickols, Chief Executive Officer of Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino County will help feed a needy family of five. CAPSBC is charged with serving 800,000 low-income families, individuals, elderly, homeless and disadvantaged residents in the county.

The agency's food bank network includes 40 donated food site locations and 25 soup kitchens throughout San Bernardino County. CAPSBC serves over 50,000 hungry persons each month.

"The need is so great," says Nickols. She concedes the agency could not meet the soaring demand for food without the help of it's corporate partners and 156 affiliate agencies such as churches, schools, soup kitchens and senior centers.

The food is provided by the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA), food commodities, salvage food from supermarkets and donations from local clubs and schools.

From the Hines' Big City Mobile Car Wash, Wells Fargo and State Farm Insurance to San Bernardino-based grocery chain Stater Bros. , Inland Empire companies big and small are opening their hearts and wallets in the face of soaring need and declining donations from the general public.

Each year Stater Bros Charities make the holidays brighter for thousands of needy families. Nickols says Stater Bros, has been a generous benefactor to CAPSBC Food Bank for over 20 years.

"Our food network operations are serving over 16 thousand low-income households per month because of partners like Stater Bros. Not just with monetary donations but also with weekly food donations of items like bread, milk, produce, meat and more."

Stater Bros. is the largest private industry donor for the CAPSBC Food Bank. To date, they have given almost 20 million pounds of food to the food bank. The company donates an average of 119 thousand pounds of food to CAPSBC each month.

Susan Atkinson, VP Corporate Affairs for Stater Bros. and President of Stater Bros. Charities says the organization was established to help the most critical needs in the communities where Stater Bros. employees live and work.

"We are most fortunate that our customers and employees have been very supportive of our in-store fund raising efforts to help these families in need in the communities we are privileged to serve."

Other partners include Rotolo Auto Group in Fontana. During the holidays the company collects can goods for the CAPSBC Food Bank. Rotolo has also produced a prime-time TV/radio commercial appealing for food assistance for the less fortunate on behalf of the food bank.

Moss Bros Auto Group collects can goods during the holidays for CAPSBC at their dealerships throughout the Inland Empire and Second Harvest Food Bank serving Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

Henry's Farmer's Market stores in Rancho Cucamonga, Chino Hills and Corona sponsored CAPSBC Food Bank through its 'Grab N' Give' donation campaign during the holiday season. Henry's donations are unique in that customers purchase bags full of groceries at a 10 percent discount, pay for them at the register and then place them in the collection area to be donated the CAPSBC Food Bank.

Local State Farm Insurance executives presented CAPSBC with a check for $10,000 proceeds from a 2010 local food drive.

Local charities say so far this year holiday donations have dropped as much as 20 percent. Corporate cash donations rose slightly in 2010 but most big companies are slow to recover in a still shaky economy.

Daryl Brock, Executive Director of Second Harvest Food Bank serving San Bernardino and Riverside Counties said his organization supplies food to more than 400 charities from homeless shelters and soup kitchens to an array of food banks.

"We're seeing more middle class and working poor families. The demographics of those seeking help has changed dramatically. Since the recession began."

Virginia and Albert Hines agree, there's a lot of uncertainty and suffering out there even so, the couple is planning to open their wallets to help the needy during the Christmas holiday.

"We believe lasting joy is found not in what you get, but what you give."

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