IMPERIAL – Union workers and volunteers gathered early Saturday morning, December 15 for the 31st San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council Food & Toy Distribution (SDICLC). The actual drive thru to receive items began at 8:30 a.m., but workers began organizing bags of food and toys as early as 6 a.m. that morning.
The purpose for union workers in organizing annual fundraisers is to assist fellow working families and community members in need, organizers said.
Donations are from both San Diego and Imperial counties, and this year, 150 families were given food and toys Saturday morning. Monthly donations by union workers’ paychecks also assist workers and community members in need.
A smiling assembly line of volunteers quickly passed each other bags of food and kept each other awake through constant communication and laughter.
Then cars began arriving at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) building to receive donations, where each family received one bag of potatoes, turkey, and canned fruits, as well as toys appropriate to kids’ ages.
“It’s amazing to watch all these cars pick up their donation,” said Keith Maddox, executive secretary/treasurer. “Teachers, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and construction workers are provided with a full meal for Christmas and toys for their kids.”
For Maddox, it is important and a priority for union labor to receive help during the holidays and he said he recognizes how many union workers still receive low wages.
“Some workers struggle to make ends meet, so this is the perfect time to give,” said Maddox. “We have workers that are thankful for the help.”
Ernestina Lau, 33, is a cafeteria union worker at Hidalgo Elementary School in Brawley, and is among the many workers thankful for the help the SDICLC provides for her family.
“I love doing what I do,” said Lau. “It helps keep ourselves involved and helping the community, and sometimes we need the help while other times we are the ones helping each other.”
“This is some of the most rewarding work we can do as union members and labor leaders, is to give back to those less fortunate families,” said IBEW Business Manager Nate Fairman. “For us to be able to give 150 families in the Imperial Valley a holiday meal and toys really raises all of us up as workers.”