Nearly 2,000 local families received some early Christmas spirit Sunday thanks to hundreds of volunteers in Fresno and Clovis.
About 1,400 families were served a holiday dinner at Hope for the Holidays, an annual event sponsored by HandsOn Central California. Held at the Fresno Convention Center, the event included entertainment, face painting, a toy giveaway, photos with Santa Claus and free flu shots.
Hope for the Holidays helps homeless and displaced families in the Fresno Unified School District, which is a partner in the event.
In Clovis, more than 400 families received a donation of much-needed groceries and bicycles for their children.
The giveaway was organized by the Clovis Rotary Club and the Clovis Police Officers Association. The two groups have teamed with the Salvation Army, various church groups, Clovis schools and other organizations for 28 years to help families in need during the holidays.
Police, school officials and others helped select the families who received a box of food Sunday morning at P-R Farms packing house at Willow and Shepard avenues. About 50 children also received refurbished bikes.
"It was a great event," said Cpl. John Willow of the Clovis Police Department. "The families were all very grateful."
The box of groceries included a frozen chicken, milk, tortillas, peanut butter, canned food, eggs, rice and produce.
Willow said more than 150 volunteers helped assemble the boxes.
"This is really a community-wide event," Willow said. "We even saw neighbors helping neighbors this year."
Several families who didn't have a car were given rides to collect their food donation.