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November 19, 2004

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Friday, November 19, 2004

Cupboards lean for Mother Branch Cupboards lean for Mother Branch (November 19, 2004)

Thanksgiving food provider desperately needs donations

by Sue Dremann

Only nine days before Thanksgiving, Mother Oneida Branch's cupboards are nearly bare.

The 86-year-old benefactress to the East Palo Alto community has provided food and clothing to those in need for 49 years -- but this year there is increased need, and donations are down.

"Oh, baby, we need money so bad," she said through her crackling cell phone connection as she bustled around her garage with a staff of volunteers, preparing for her annual Thanksgiving food give-away.

She expects more than 175 people will be will be seeking food for their families next week.

"There's more need now than ever. There are so many people out of work. There are a lot of homeless people we're taking care of -- oh, my goodness," she said.

A gift of turkeys, hams, fresh vegetables and, especially, a grocery gift certificate in any amount will help her meet the need for Thanksgiving and Christmas, she said.

Branch's operation runs year-round, and no one is ever turned away. She continues her work despite suffering from diabetes, congenital heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

"I'm 86 years old, but I look like 59 -- the Lord is keeping me," she said.

People can send checks, money orders and grocery gift certificates (no cash), or drop off their contributions directly to Mother Oneida Branch, 2584 Farrington Way, East Palo Alto, CA 94303.

Make checks payable to the East Palo Alto Community Center. People can deliver food, clothing and money gifts directly to Mother Branch at 2584 Farrington Way, East Palo Alto -- the cross street is Kavanaugh, off University Avenue. Interested parties can also call (650) 325-2848.

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