KTVU Fox 2
Posted: NOV 17 2016 10:36PM PST
SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) – Thanksgiving came a little early for a group of 40 foster children in San Jose who received a Thanksgiving feast with all the fixings. The annual dinner was held at the Sobrato Center in San Jose, where it was much more than a meal.
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For Maricruz Pajarito, she admits life growing up hasn’t been easy. The 18-year-old Oakland native was in and out of foster care with no stable home life.
“Thanksgiving and Christmas always seemed to bring me down because everyone had a type of family structure but I didn’t,” said Pajarito.
18-year-old Joseph Bagshaw has a similar story. His life didn’t turn around until after a two-month stint in Juvenile Hall.
“My teenage years were rough,” said Bagshaw.
Both of them are under the care of Unity Care, a program that helps thousands of at risk and foster youth in the Bay Area. On Thursday, these young people were able to experience the fellowship and food that comes with Thanksgiving, in part thanks to volunteers from the nonprofit the Links Incorporated.
“We felt there was a need to help these kids that have no one to help them,” said Jan White of the Links.
White spent the past two days cooking the turkey and sweet potatoes. She’s been a volunteer for this annual tradition for the last five years.
“When I see so many kids that don’t have anyone to care about them it means a lot,” said White. “If i can do a little bit and make a difference in their life. I’ve been blessed and I want to be a blessing to them.”
Their help couldn’t come at a better time when the need is great.
“This year we are seeing a 30 percent increase in the level of families and young people in place of despair,” said Unity Care CEO Andre Chapman.
At least, for these children, the dinner gives them a sense of what family is all about.
“They took the time out to cook it and set all this up,” said Bagshaw “They didn’t have to spend days cooking up all this food.”
“It’s really nice that there’s people that show that they care,” said Parajito.
Pajarito said the the event gives her hope this is something she wants to do in the future, hosting a Thanksgiving dinner and bringing her own family together.