Saddleback San Diego Church hosting pop-up food drive

Saddleback's pop-up food drive is serving local families who have been impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
(Courtesy)

Saddleback San Diego Church, which meets in Carmel Valley, is holding pop-up food drives to help local families who have been impacted by the novel coronavirus outbreak.

“It’s amazing that we have such a strong group of people from our local community volunteering to really serve this community that’s in need right now,” said Phil Sanchez, who has served as the church’s campus pastor for about two years.

The church held its first food drive on April 6 at the Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch, where it provided one week of food to about 41 families from local areas. One young mother who lost her job showed up with her two children. Other families who benefited from the drive had similar stories of job loss, difficulty paying rent and other struggles resulting from coronavirus-related business closures and layoffs.

“We’re a strong community that gives help to people in need and is also open to receiving help if they are in need,” Sanchez said. “That’s part of the resilient attitude I’ve seen.”

The second food drive will be held on April 20 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch.

“What’s been amazing for me in this role is to see our church and our volunteers really step into the front lines so to speak, to help people in need,” Sanchez said.

The church is also accepting donated items including spaghetti sauce, peanut butter, canned foods, cereal, pasta, rice and other items such as toothpaste, soap and stuffed animals for children.

“We were initially only going to do it once, but once we saw the updates coming from across the nation and that we’re going to be in this isolated period for the entire month of April, we decided we needed to do it twice this month in order to fulfill the needs of our community,” Sanchez said.

Saddleback was limited to using 10 volunteers at the pop-up food drive to comply with social distancing requirements and limits on in-person gatherings. Many other volunteers were wait-listed for the food drive. But through a “care calling” initiative, they were put to use by making calls to local residents prone to the struggles of living in isolation due to the social distancing orders.

“It’s been amazing, just from a pastor’s standpoint, to see our church and the volunteers of our church step up,” Sanchez said.

Federal guidelines to combat coronavirus spread have been extended through the end of April, leaving many employees and businesses in limbo. Only essential businesses, such as grocery stores and gas stations, are permitted to remain open.

“It’s amazing that we have such a strong group of people from our local community volunteering to really serve this community that’s in need right now,” Sanchez said.

The Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch is located at 13490 Pacific Highlands Ranch Parkway in Carmel Valley. The location of the Saddleback food bank will be a grassy area in the eastern area of the shopping center, near the Breakfast Republic restaurant.

Saddleback has been meeting Sunday mornings at Canyon Crest Academy since 2016. For more information, visit saddleback.com/sandiego.


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