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Volunteers Help FIRM with Thanksgiving Drive-Thru for Refugees

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Caselena Yang (left) and Thandeka Mcube prepare food bags for the FIRM Thanksgiving drive-thru. (GV Wire/David Taub)
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A shortage of turkeys because of the supply chain may mean new immigrants and refugees may have a slightly different Thanksgiving tradition this year.

Some may get chicken instead. All will get a 25 pound bag of rice.

Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries is operating a Thanksgiving drive-thru, helping out the community it serves mainly in southeast Fresno.

The pandemic has changed how they help.

“FIRM used to do a lot of community events where we would come and eat together. Eating together is such an important part of who we are as FIRM. But due to COVID, we have learned how to do drive through events,” executive director Christine Barker said.

The main dining space is now being used as a COVID testing site twice a week.

FIRM expects to serve more than 300 families and 1,500 people, mainly those of southeast Asian and Hispanic descent. They also expect refugees from Syria to enjoy the American tradition as well.

Soon, they will help integrate refugees from Afghanistan.

To help donate, click here.

Volunteer Motivations

Inside the FIRM offices, several volunteers were bagging vegetables for the drive-thru.

Caselena Yang said volunteering is her life coming full-circle.

“When the opportunity arose for this position to be a community health worker, I took it because I felt like I was giving back to the community who also gave to me when I was younger and when we were going through hard times,” Yang said.

Thandeka Mcube will celebrate her first Thanksgiving. She is originally from Zimbabwe. She came to Fresno through a Mennonite Central exchange program.

“I miss home, but I enjoy what I’m doing. It’s good to give back. It is also good to to help the people in need. So it’s a nice experience all together,” she said.

She is not familiar with another Thanksgiving tradition, football.

“I’ll probably have a look at that and try and experience it and see how it goes,” she said.

Chavez Helps With Donation

FIRM’s goal is to raise $28,000 and they are almost there. Fresno City Council President Luis Chavez helped, by donating $3,000 from his office.

“The best way to the heart is through the stomach,” Chavez said while presenting the check to FIRM.

He also said the Thanksgiving food preparation is “community helping community.” Most of the fresh vegetables are grown locally by the southeast Asian community.

Luis Chavez (center) presents a check to FIRM along with Blong Xiong (left) and Christine Barker of FIRM.

David Taub has spent most of his career in journalism behind the scenes working as a TV assignment editor and radio producer. For more than a decade, he has worked in the Fresno market with such stops at KSEE-24, KMJ and Power Talk 96.7. Taub also worked the production and support side of some of TV sports biggest events including the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals and NASCAR to name a few. Taub graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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