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It’s about having fun & helping community

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POSTED September 28, 2011 8:42 p.m.

The 27th annual Sunrise Kiwanis Manteca Pumpkin Fair is not just about having a good time.

The event helps the service clubs raise funds for a wide range of community activities it underwrites from the Fourth of July parade and free fishing day for kids and a free community Thanksgiving dinner. The club disperses checks to various non-profits each year in addition to three major benefactors. The three this year are the Manteca Youth Focus Pumpkin Youth, Manteca Unified health service program for homeless students, and the Welcome Home Heroes Foundation.

The Sunrise Kiwanis has raised $539,000 so far for non-profits from Pumpkin Fairs they have staged. That is in addition to what various non-profits raise on their own at the Pumpkin Fair.

Manteca Unified program to help homeless students

Manteca Unified School District’s Transitional Student Success Program (TSSP) provides support to students experiencing homelessness in compliance with the McKinley-Vento Homeless Education Act. In school year 2010-11, 739 students were identified as living in homeless situations such as shelters, motels, or living temporarily with family or friends due to loss of housing.

The goal of the TSSP program is to provide school stability and academic support during a time of housing instability and change. Homeless students are eligible for the school nutrition program, academic support and school supplies. At times, students may even lack basic needs such as clothing for school, shoes, socks, and hygiene items. With grant funding, community resources and private donations, these basic needs can be met for MUSD students.

Welcome Home Heroes Foundation

The Welcome Home Heroes Foundation was born out of the “Not Forgotten” annual event that takes place every Memorial Day Weekend in Manteca.

The mission it is to honor all veterans, remember our fallen, and raise awareness in our community that “freedom is not free.” A Traveling Tribute memorial was designed and constructed through the organization to honor all our military men and women who have laid down their lives in service to our country since 9/11. The memorial is the center piece of the “Not Forgotten” event and stands as a witness to the great sacrifice that almost 6,000 men and women and their families have made in the War on Terror.

The Welcome Home Heroes Foundation also supports veterans throughout our community by assisting returning veterans with re-settling costs as well as providing gas cards to those who have to travel to various VA facilities throughout our region.

Manteca Youth Focus Pumpkin Fair royalty

It’s a tradition that dates back to over 30 years, each year a young woman is selected to serve as Miss Pumpkin Fair. Since 1998 this royal tradition has evolved with the help of Manteca Youth Focus to include teen and young age levels as well as young men serving as ambassadors.

This year’s event will feature a group of young adults serving as the official “host and hostesses” of the 27th annual Manteca Pumpkin Fair. The 2011 representatives include Jessica Ray, Miss Pumpkin Fair, Robyn Glover, Miss Teen Pumpkin Fair, Allison Nussbaumer, Miss Young Pumpkin Fair and Zachary Chamberlain, Young Pumpkin Fair Ambassador.

They will have several important duties throughout the weekend. In addition to meeting and greeting visitors to the fair, entertaining fairgoers during opening ceremonies each day and judging the delicious treats submitted in the various cooking contests, each of them will also complete a community advocacy project.

 “Our youth participants are always excited to serve as Pumpkin Fair titleholders,” states Brandy Wamsat, board member for Manteca Youth Focus and director of the annual scholarship competitions held each March which are responsible for the selection of the Pumpkin Fair royalty. “It’s a fun weekend that is jam-packed with tons of activities. The kids are excited to work hard and do a great job on behalf of the Kiwanis.”

Ray, a 17-year old senior at Sierra High School, will be participating in the Pumpkin Fair Special Access Day for her advocacy project. Glover, a 15-year old East Union High School sophomore, will continue her advocacy project last year, bringing awareness and information to combat bullying and cyberbullying. Nussbaumer, an 11-year old 6th grader at Modesto Christian, will be collecting toiletries, stationary and small gifts for Operation Christmas Child which will be given to children in developing countries. Chamberlain, a 12-year old 6th grader at Walter Woodward Elementary School, will be collecting new and gently used soccer cleats to donate to local struggling families.

With sponsorship by the Manteca-Sunrise Kiwanis Club, the Pumpkin Fair titleholders earn one of 18 available special educational awards available to participants in the Manteca Youth Focus Scholarship Competitions. Plans are currently underway for the 2012 scholarship competitions. Each year, Manteca Youth Focus awards nearly $9,000 in educational scholarships and prizes with each and every contestant earning a scholarship regardless of placement. Divided into 3 separate age divisions, the competitions are open to young men and women ages 10-21, who reside or attend schools within the boundaries of the Manteca Unified School District. There is also a special 1-day Mini Manteca Fun Camp for ages 6-9. For more information on the Pumpkin Fair Royalty and Manteca Youth Focus program you can visit www.MantecaYouthFocus.org or contact Brandy Wamsat at 401-4509 or email Brandy@MantecaYouthFocus.org.

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