Hundreds in need receive free Thanksgiving food from San Mateo nonprofit

Hundreds of people pulled up in cars at Samaritan House in San Mateo Tuesday for free groceries and Thanksgiving turkeys. Don Rasmussen came in his wheelchair.

Rasmussen is one of more than a thousand people in need Samaritan House expects to help feed over the holiday.

Besides turkeys, those who come receive fresh produce and other ingredients for a full-blown Thanksgiving dinner.

Without that help, he says he probably wouldn't have a Thanksgiving.

"It would be like any other day. What's special about it unless it is made special. If it isn't then it is just another day," Rassmussen said.

Rasmussen now lives in public housing after years of sleeping near a Daly City golf course.

"Up in the woods where you could get in from two fences. Nobody knows what was in there. I stayed there for 15 years," he said.

Samaritan House, a non-profit organization that works with low-income residents in San Mateo County, says the pandemic is still taking an economic toll on the community. 

That includes those with jobs that just aren't paying enough. 

"The crush at the door for people needing help, whether it is food, or shelter, clothing, is enormous. Sometimes between two and five times normal depending on the service," says Samaritan House CEO Bart Charlow.

And while people came to receive food, one woman came to give food. She brought about 100 frozen turkeys that her church, Redeemer Redwood City, collected.

"There's been shortages. We had to go to different stores. Today we were able to get a big haul, thankfully," said Ale Tapiero.

She says she hopes to be back with more.

Samaritan House will be holding this Thanksgiving food distribution each day this week through Friday.

I'm thankful every day there are nice people out here," said Rasmussen.