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Final Push For Holiday Efforts
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Just a couple more days remain for local residents to help out the area's needy families through the Escalon Ministerial Association's annual Christmas Fund drive.

Donations are needed to provide food vouchers to local families that might not otherwise have a nutritious holiday meal to share later this month.

"The goal is $15,000," said Marion Van Vliet, coordinating the drive this year in cooperation with the ministerial association.

Each year, donations come from throughout the community and food vouchers are given to families for one of the three local stores, Big Boy Market, Mar-Val Main Street Market and Los Altenos Market. Voucher amount depends on the family size.

Van Vliet, from Escalon Covenant Church, said letters seeking donations went out a little later than usual this year, so the fund isn't growing as quickly as officials had hoped.

"There are not a lot of funds," he admitted of where the collection effort stood as of Dec. 6.

Donations are sought by this Friday, Dec. 10.

"We're encouraging people to continue to give for the Christmas voucher program," he said.

Last year, the effort brought in $14,600 and vouchers were given to 137 families with a total of 649 people served through the program.

Send donations to Escalon Ministerial Association Christmas Fund, P.O. Box 1, Escalon, CA 95320. Checks can be made payable to the Escalon Ministerial Association. The Christmas Fund Drive has been going on for more than two decades, noted Van Vliet, and donations of all amounts are appreciated.

There's also a final sign up for participating in the Toys for Tots giveaway, with families needing to sign up at the Escalon C.A.R.E. Center on Second Street this Saturday, Dec. 11 between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Bring proof of residency and information about the ages and number of children in the family.

Collection boxes and barrels are now available at multiple locations around the community and donations of new, unwrapped toys are sought. Helping coordinate the effort is Battalion Chief Terry Pinheiro of the Escalon Fire Department, who said the distribution day on Tuesday, Dec. 21 will be staged at the firehouse on Coley Avenue, starting at 10 a.m.

Toys and gifts are needed for boys and girls, in a variety of ages from birth to young teen. The collection boxes and barrels will be picked up on Monday, Dec. 20 for sorting and distribution to local families on Dec. 21.

Nearly two dozen sites are collecting toys, from businesses to schools, banks to local offices.

Area schools also have a multitude of holiday efforts going on; check with individual campuses to see how to help.

At Escalon High, for example, members of the Key Club, the youth arm of Kiwanis, are busy gathering items to help stock the Kiwanis House in the Sacramento area, a home that is run much like the 'Ronald McDonald' house in that it allows families with seriously ill or injured children being treated at the Shriners Hospital to stay there, close by, without the added expense of a hotel.

"We know we're helping," said Key Club advisor Rick Heflin. "We've had people from this area go stay there and you can stay as long as your child is up there being treated."

Collections are being done in the school's 'reading period' classes with items including soaps, cleaning supplies, kitchen items and office supplies being sought.

The collection will go through Dec. 17 at the school, then the supplies will be delivered to the Kiwanis House during the holiday break for the Christmas and New Year's holidays.