Nancy Martin, of Sunland, grabs two heavy bags of food off of a truck at William McKinley Elementary in Burbank on Friday, December 14, 2018. Receiving donations from grocery stores, and business who conducted food drives, the Burbank Coordinating Council assembled multiple bags of food and gifts for over 500 Burbank families in need. Everything will be delivered on Saturday.(Tim Berger / Staff Photographer)
Since 1946, the Burbank Coordinating Council has done its best to provide less-fortunate families in the community with food and supplies to make it through the holiday season.
Janet Diel, president of the local nonprofit, said that although the economy has improved somewhat over recent years, there are still many families and children who get by each day with very little or nothing at all.
“The sad thing for our community and our country is that the need is still tremendously great,” she said. “The economy is so impacted that we have over 5,000 children who are on free or reduced-price lunches. That’s a third of the children in the schools. It’s horrible.”
Now in its 72nd year, the council has organized its annual holiday baskets program, in which baskets filled with food, toiletries, toys and other amenities are donated to families who are in need.
Volunteers helped deliver the baskets to more than 500 families on Dec. 15. McKinley Elementary served as the headquarters for the nonprofit that morning, as drivers congregated at the school to pick up the baskets and transport them to local families.
Diel said she teams up with other local nonprofits, such as the Family Promise of the Verdugos, the Boys & Girls of Burbank and Greater East Valley and the Kids’ Community Dental Clinic, as well as Burbank Unified to find families to help during the holidays.
“Some of these families are moving into an apartment, but have no food or anything,” Diel said. “So, we make sure that we partner with organizations … to make sure there’s food for them.”
She added that the Burbank Coordinating Council delivered baskets to three homeless families this year who were either living in their car or bouncing around from one’s friend’s house to another.
“We have so many families who are so grateful for the help that it makes it worthwhile,” Diel said. “Anybody who’s been a part of the program gets hooked. They come back next year and the year after and bring their children, and their children will grow up helping other families. It’s wonderful to see how we’re building caring people and good citizens.”