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500 families getting ‘Christmas Baskets’ this year

Donations down with tough economy, volunteer says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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An Auburn organization is ready to distribute Christmas gifts to those who need it most. The Auburn Area Christmas Basket Program is holding its 27th annual distribution day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in the Armory Building at the Gold Country Fairgrounds. The program plans to give out two weeks’ worth of food, Christmas dinner and toys to 500 local families. Although the signup period to receive the donations has passed, those who aren’t signed up might still be able to get food. These people should arrive at the Armory as early as possible to put their names on a list. Any leftover food will first go toward the people on that list, according to Manuel Ferreira, who serves on the board of directors for Christmas Basket. Volunteers will be on-hand to load the food into cars, and there is a possibility volunteers can deliver the food to another location if the receiving family does not have a car, Ferreira said. Volunteer Linda Yaffe, who has been helping with Christmas Basket for a couple of years, said the program is necessary in today’s economic times. “You can obviously see from the numbers of people every year who are increasingly needing this food that it’s absolutely crucial,” Yaffe said. “I can see more needy people on the streets. I have been in Auburn many years, and I’m certainly seeing more poor people. I’m seeing more people living in their cars.” Yaffe said it’s a wonderful thing to volunteer for the program. “It’s one thing to write a check, and that’s good … but it’s another thing to directly help,” she said. “It’s great.” Auburn resident Juanita Stone, who has been volunteering with the program for three or four years, said it feels like she is giving back to the community by participating. “It’s just the satisfaction of knowing I helped someone, because there were times when I needed help,” Stone said. Pete Duisenberg has been volunteering with the program for 10 years. Duisenberg said he thinks the state of the economy is definitely affecting Christmas Basket this year. “I notice this year there is less food, less donations,” Duisenberg said. “There are still a lot there, but it’s down.” Sallysue Stein, a program volunteer of three or four years, said she is proud that this is the second year the students of woodshop classes at Placer High School have made cradles to be distributed to little girls. “I think it just involves so many people in the community helping so many people in the community, and it just trickles down,” Stein said. Ferreira, who is also in charge of the red donation barrels associated with Christmas Basket, said he wants the community to know that any leftover food on distribution day still goes to Auburn -area residents. “Everything here stays in the community,” Ferreira said. “If we have any extra, it goes to the local food closet.” Ferreira said volunteering is his way of thanking the community. “I have been pretty fortunate,” Ferreira said. “We raised seven children, and we never had to get in the food line or anything. (All my children) are working locally. So, it’s payback to the community.” Stein said putting together distribution day is a huge effort, but it’s great to see various members of the community get involved. “I don’t know if (the community) understands how labor intensive it really is,” she said. “The planning for this goes on year-round. It’s just amazing to see what happens in a two to three week (sorting) period. It’s just an ever-changing group of (volunteers), and it’s amazing how it all comes together.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ------------------------------------------------------- Auburn Area Christmas Basket Program distribution day When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday Where: The Armory Building at the Gold Country Fairgrounds For information or to donate: Call (530) 888-3750 or visit auburnareachristmasbasket.org