KINGS BEACH, Calif. — More than 100 tote bags were neatly arranged on cloth-covered tables Saturday afternoon inside the North Tahoe Event Center, with most featuring a different family’s name.
Inside were paper towels, toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste, sponges and diapers, among other personal care items.
“As I was thinking about unmet needs, I realized that probably a good third of our money goes to non-edible necessities just to make it OK to stand to the guy next to you,” said longtime North Shore resident Meera Beser.
It was with that idea that Beser organized this year’s North Tahoe Holiday Winter Clothing and Necessities Giveaway to help locals in need.
Since clothing is another necessity, winter garments for males and females of all ages also were given away.
“We only accepted what was in very good condition,” explained Meredith Rosenberg, board chair for the North Tahoe Family Resource Center. “We didn’t want anyone’s garbage — that was very important. You have to honor people. You have to be respectful.”
While the giveaway didn’t focus on food, volunteers also served hot soup, sandwiches, coffee and hot chocolate during Saturday’s four-hour event.
When asked how she hopes these offerings impact residents, Beser said, “I hope they feel cared about, but also to give them a little extra to pay their bills and make their holidays happier.”
On evaluation sheets filled out by recipients, comments included: “Esta muy bien,” “(I) couldn’t ask for anything more,” and “It was super fun, and I got a lot that I’ve needed — thank you!”
As many as 150 to 160 families — equivalent to 300 to 500 individuals — from across the North Shore were assisted at this year’s giveaway, which was the 35th annual, Beser said.
“I had no idea how great the need was until I (was) here today,” said Karen Salzer, a part-time Northstar resident and first-year volunteer.
Salzer was among roughly 100 volunteers who throughout last week helped pick up donations, pack tote bags and provide assistance at the giveaway.
Various individuals, churches, businesses, schools, libraries and agencies donated the clothing, personal care items, food and money to make Saturday’s event possible.
“I love my community,” said Rosenberg, who also volunteered. “North Lake Tahoe is a very generous place.”
Yet Beser — a dedicated volunteer who has spearheaded the annual North Tahoe Community Thanksgiving Celebration — would like to see that generosity happen more frequently.
“It’s something that on some level needs to be done a little more often than once a year because people don’t have needs just (at) Christmas,” she said, adding that she’s looking into the possibility of offering a giveaway at least once a month.
While that likelihood is unknown, what is certain is how grateful residents were Saturday for the seasonal effort.
“Thank you so much,” said one family to Beser, shortly before exiting the event center with bags in hand and smiles on their faces.
“North Lake Tahoe is a very generous place.”
board chair, North Tahoe Family Resource Center