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SM Parade of Lights once again collecting food donations for Salvation Army

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The Rotary Club is holding a food drive to benefit the Salvation Army during the Santa Maria Christmas Parade of Lights this weekend. (Dave Alley/KEYT)

SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- The Santa Maria Christmas Parade of Lights is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

First hosted by the Rotary Club in 1995, parade will once again bring the community together for one of the most popular events held annually in the Santa Maria Valley.

It will also serve as an important benefit for the Salvation Army.

"We got the idea that Salvation Army could really use food stuffs at that time of they year as they're feeding the needy, so we asked everybody to come to the parade if they can bring a canned good and we'll collect them. ,” said parade co-chair Mike Gibson. “It's several thousands pounds of food that are collected each year."

According to Ministry Leader Patricia Torres, food that is collected makes a huge impact to many clients that rely on Salvation Army.

"It's an opportunity for us to give to those needy families, especially during the holiday season when many of them are out of a job and to be able to help them make ends meet, it means a lot,” Torres said.  “It's wonderful to see how a community comes together to help a neighbor."

To take participate in the food drive, parade-goers can simply donate non-perishable food at the end of the parade.

“We have a truck that follows Santa Claus on the last entry, puts the cans up on the truck and when they get to Cook Street, they take a left and drop them off at Salvation Army,” said Gibson.

Torres said food donated is distributed to clients in just a matter of hours.

"It's collected on Saturday and by Monday morning, it's already going out the door,” said Torres. “It's immediate."

Torres added food collected during the parade typically will help fill Salvation Army shelves for six-to-seven weeks.

"Salvation Army is very grateful because we couldn't this without the community coming together and helping us being helping to help our neighbor," said Torres. “We love Santa Maria. We love the parade. It's a tradition and just hope it's not just during the holiday season, the need is year round, but during this time, it really does help."

The parade begins at 5:30 p.m. and will run for two hours.

It starts at Stowell Road and continues north on Broadway until it reaches the Town Center Mall.

Estimates show the parade typically draws between 20,000 to 25,000 each year, with several thousand more watching the live television broadcast on KCOY 12.

KCOY will begin live coverage at 5:30 p.m., with news anchors Scott Hennessee and Genelle Padilla hosting the telecast.

Rain is threatening the parade this weekend. Rotary said it will only be cancelled if heavy rain is forecast during the event.

Rotary will post an update on the Parade of Lights website, at 12:00 p.m. Saturday.

Article Topic Follows: California
food drive
parade of lights
salvation army

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Dave Alley

Dave Alley is a reporter and anchor at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Dave, click here.


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