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Christmas Spirit Shines

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Many organizations have spread Holiday cheer to those less fortunate. Groups in Tuolumne and Calaveras Counties have donated tons of food and fun for families.

In Tuolumne County, Sonora Regional Medical Center kicked off its Christmas Wishes gift drive last week. So far over 376 gifts have been collected for kids and adults. Additionally, hospital employees donated over 10,500 pounds of food for the Medical Center’s Food for Families program before Thanksgiving.

“These gifts are more than things – they are a message to those in need that they are loved and part of a community where we are all in this together,” explains Chaplain Bryan Lewis, who helped coordinate both Food for Families and Christmas Wishes.

Also, the Sierra Conservation Center staff has donated toys to Child Welfare Services of Tuolumne County. The toys will be handed out to children on Saturday during the annual Holiday Party for Tuolumne County’s foster youth and families at Railtown 1897. The gifts included nearly 60 hand-crafted wooden toys made by prisoners in the Inmate Vocational Program for wood working. The staff also donated winter clothing and toiletries to Interfaith of Sonora and pet food to the Tuolumne County Humane Society.

In Calaveras County, organizations donated plenty of items to benefit The Resource Connection’s Santa’s Express food and toy distribution. Angels-Murphys Rotary Club and the West Calaveras Rotary Club packed and delivered turkeys and food to about 200 low-income seniors, individuals and families. The group also raised $5,000 to purchase food. The Tuolumne and Calaveras Unit of Cal Fire also got in on the act by donating nineteen bikes and three large bins of toys. Also, the Calaveras County Office of Education staff collected over 1,000 food and toy items for the event.

“Low-income families sign up for this event every year. We estimate that the community will serve about 1300 families this year,” said Jeannie Hayward, director of The Resource Connection Food Bank. “Santa’s Express is 100% community supported with monetary donations, toy and coat donations and food donations. This is a great example of our community working together to ensure that many families, seniors and individuals have a wonderful Christmas this year.”

All the donations will be distributed this Saturday during the Santa’s Express event at these three locations: The Food Bank in San Andreas, Murphys Senior Center and Blue Mountain Coalition for Youth & Families in West Point.