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Hancock single-parent students receive Thanksgiving meals

A Allan Hancock College holiday tradition returned on Thursday morning. The annual CARE Turkey Fest was held to help support students that are involved with a state funded program designed to assist single-parents attending Hancock.

“We are providing 70 single-parents turkey dinners to prepare with their families and we’re going to be serving over 100 children as well because of this event,” said event co-coordinator Robin Dungan.

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The students are all part of the school’s Cooperative Agencies Resources for Education (CARE) program, which provides both financial and educational support for single-parents enrolled at the college.

“I received a turkey and the fixings,” said student Linsey Mccormack. “I saw there was pumpkin pie. I saw rolls. Everything that will give my family a Thanksgiving meal.”

For two hours, students received meals, which included a 16-to-18 pound frozen turkey, from volunteers in a drive-through style system. The process was so quick, students didn’t even have to leave their car to receive the bagged food, which was valued at $37.

“It just means a lot,” said student Jessica Aragonez. “The CARE program has done so much for me and my family. They’re just a big help through support and school and the turkey event is something I look forward to every year. I find it very helpful, especially being a single-parent with two little girls and it really means a lot.”

Now in its eighth year, the Turkey Fest is an example of how the close-knit Hancock staff and faculty support the students they serve.

“The campus and community come together to provide donations, so we have a campaign here on campus where staff and faculty donate,” said Dungan. “It says a lot about our campus and our community that we care and we support our students and we want to make sure that our students are taken care of.”

The CARE program at Hancock is the only one of its kind in California. Students in the program say they’re grateful for the support they receive year round, and especially now, during the upcoming holiday season.

“It makes it a lot less stressful,” said student Amanda Hillier. “I’m really grateful for it. I’m not sure what I’d do without it really.”

Hillier added the CARE program is a huge boost to her educational pursuits as she juggles school and raising her young son.

“It makes a huge impact,” Hillier said. “It helps a lot. They give us gas cards, they give us cafeteria cards. I bring my son sometimes too. They have a really nice office and it’s got a play area with a TV, so I can even bring my son when I need to do homework, which is a huge relief. They provide books and any kind of school supplies that I need, so they really go above and beyond to show that they care, and that they’re here, and no matter what, we don’t have to go through the college experience alone.”

Many students noted receiving the meals would allow them to save money and direct funds to other needs, particularly for their children.

“Receiving this today is a really huge blessing,” said Mccormack. “With getting this and not having to spend my own money, I can use my own money towards my son, towards clothes for the winter season coming up, if he needs new shoes, just being able to provide more at home.”

The CARE Turkey Fest was held at Hancock’s campuses in Santa Maria and Lompoc. Money raised through donations was used to purchase food discounted at wholesale cost at Spencer’s Fresh Market.

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