Ron Drew
Ron Drew of SAFTI First is spearheading the company’s Thanksgiving efforts in Merced, Calif.

A SAFTI First factory in Merced, Calif., is doing its part to contribute to the holiday spirit by donating 100 Thanksgiving meals to needy local residents.

The full meals, which will include a turkey as big as 12 pounds, cornbread stuffing with fresh onions and celery, creamy mashed potatoes, home-style gravy, cranberry apple sauce, bakery-fresh dinner rolls and pumpkin pie for dessert, will be distributed equally to families from across the four school districts within the factory’s region. The school districts will select the families that would benefit most from the gift certificate to be claimed at a local supermarket chain.

“Our factory in Merced is really involved in the community,” says Diana San Diego, the marketing director for San Francisco-based SAFTI First, “and this is their way of giving back.”

The program is the brainchild of Ron Drew, the company’s vice president of operations. Drew has remained keenly aware of the problems plaguing the Northern California town, such as high unemployment rates and soaring housing costs since first joining the company eight years ago.

“A lot of our own folks live here in the community,” Drew says. “So it’s extremely important that we always give something back.”

Drew had helped spearhead previous drives that saw $20,000 worth of bicycles donated to neighborhood kids and similar efforts for Christmas before teaming up with local school districts to establish a similar Thanksgiving program.

Virtually all of the company’s 120 employees from the Merced factory have chosen to be involved in the community efforts, Drew says.

“We’ve kind of gotten pretty good at it the last few years,” he says. “It makes you feel pretty good.”

SAFTI First was hardly alone in choosing the advent of the holiday season to do something special in appreciation for the community that supports it. Seattle-based Hartung Glass recently donated insulating glass (IG) units to the joint day of service held by the Roseville (Calif.) Police Activities League (RPAL) and McCarthy Building Company to renovate and revitalize the RPAL gym that relies on grants, volunteers and donations.

The gym provides city youth – many of whom are underprivileged or at risk – with a safe and supervised environment that provides positive influences and diversion programs such as fitness classes, community service projects, homework help, mentoring from police officers and education about positive life choices.