Katie Hanson, left, and her parents Robin and John Hanson with bundled-up Thanksgiving food items they donated to the Lawndale food pantry. The spent about
Katie Hanson, left, and her parents Robin and John Hanson with bundled-up Thanksgiving food items they donated to the Lawndale food pantry. The spent about $1,500 with non-perishable food that filled up their large Suburban SUV. (Brad Graverson / Staff Photographer)

They bought so much food they needed to lower the seats inside their Chevrolet Suburban. There were boxes of macaroni and cheese, hefty bags of potatoes, cans of tuna, chicken, green beans, pineapple and much more.

John and Robin Hanson of Hawthorne and their 27-year-old daughter Katie of Redondo Beach made their purchases Monday from Costco and Fresh & Easy, racking up a bill of about $1,500.

And on Wednesday morning, the family got to see volunteers at the Lawndale Community Center put it to good use as they handed out bags loaded with many of the Hansons's items to people waiting in line.

"Once a year we try to do something," said John Hanson, 55, a self- employed customs broker who clears imports for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. "I've been fortunate. We try to pass it on."

In years past, the Hansons have contributed to local school programs and ball drives organized by the Hawthorne Fire Department and the Daily Breeze. In fact, it was the Hansons who in late 2008 donated some 2,000 balls that the newspaper turned over to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Los Angeles Harbor. It was the single largest donation in the history of the Breeze's initiative.

This year, the Hansons said they decided to buy groceries for the city of Lawndale's food program after reading about it and other local pantries in Sunday's newspaper. The story outlined the challenges many local agencies and charitable organizations face as they collect food items for more people in need.

The next morning, the Hansons called the city of Lawndale to ask whether the program could handle a sizeable donation. After staff members offered suggestions, the Hansons headed to the store.

"We just kept filling up carts," said Katie Hanson as she and her parents watched volunteers on Wednesday grab bags to hand over to people moving through the line.

Lawndale offers food weekly to roughly 80 families, based on donations the program receives from the Foodbank of Southern California in Long Beach. Last week, volunteers had prepared 72 bags with staples such as beans, rice and beef stew for the same number of waiting families. Not everyone got a frozen chicken or turkey loaf, however; there weren't enough on hand.

"I would like to say that the amount of food that was donated from the family was just super-appreciated," said Mike Estes, the city's community services manager.

"We think we're lucky, so we want to help," Katie Hanson said. "If anyone else is in a position that they can give back, they should. We're not rich. We're just fortunate."

kristin.agostoni@dailybreeze.com

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