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Christmas program to give food, toys to 3,000 of Auburn’s neediest

Still short of canned goods, Auburn radio personality to hold on-air drive in barrel for more
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - The toys are stacked in boxes and bags awaiting the big day Saturday when they’ll be taken home with needy children from the Auburn area to be unwrapped on Christmas Day. They’re part of the Auburn Area Christmas Basket Program’s annual effort to reach out to the community’s neediest residents. This year, an estimated 3,000 people, young and old, will be given food to last two weeks. And for the youngest, there will be toys on Christmas Day. Bobbi Tamietti, chairwoman of the toy drive that culminates with smiles on young faces Saturday, said the hundreds of plush animals, games and other Christmas gift favorites for kids is an important part of the program’s mission. “I was in a similar position as a child growing up in Southern California,” Tamietti said. “We had illness in the family and I remember that big box of food on Christmas Eve and toys. It’s something you never forget and this is my way of giving back.” An Auburn resident since 1968, Tamietti started volunteering with the Christmas Basket Program in the mid-1980s with her late husband, Vic. In 1994, the two were the first couple to be awarded the Vernon McCann Award for service to the Auburn community. Vic died in 2005 and Bobbie has continued to lead a toy drive that collects from barrels placed around Auburn in the fall and depends on a small army of volunteers as distribution day arrives. That will come Saturday morning. “Just to see the kids’ faces is thank-you enough,” Tamietti said. Vic Macy, Christmas Basket Program chairman, said Wednesday that the annual effort is on course to provide nearly 600 families with food and toys. A call through the Journal two weeks ago was answered with money for new bicycles and donations of bikes, Macy said. This week, Macy and several volunteers found themselves on a round trip to an Exeter farm to pick 1,000 pounds of oranges. Another day, it was down to a major Sacramento area canned food maker to pick up thousands of tins of soup and other donated food items. From 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, KAHI’s Dave Rosenthal will be broadcasting live – wearing a barrel – from the Raley’s shopping center in Bowman to collect more donations there of canned goods. Macy said there is still a shortage of canned vegetables, soups and fruits. “Each year, there’s always a surprise that comes to us,” Macy said. “To me, the whole thing is a miracle that unfolds on distribution day.”