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Manteca Ford helps make holidays bright

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Manteca Ford helps make holidays bright

Efren Diaz snaps to get the attention of his sister, Tanya, as they pose for a picture with Santa Claus.

JASON CAMPBELL /The Bulletin/


POSTED December 25, 2013 9:14 p.m.

There were a lot of things that Aaron Harmon could have been doing Tuesday morning other than standing outside in the cold.

Sleeping. Spending time with his own family. Staying warm.

But there he was perched right outside of Phil Waterford’s Manteca Ford Mercury, helping parents and reluctant children bag up the toys that lit up their faces like the morning sun.

There was nowhere else he’d rather be.

“It’s all about seeing these smiling faces and all of these excited kids,” Harmon said with an ear-to-ear grin. “Christmas is all about community and family and giving back. That’s why I’m down here. This is what it’s all about.”

For the 6th year, Waterford opened the doors to his dealership and welcomed in anybody that wanted to share a sense of community and a Christmas Eve breakfast. What started with humble beginnings has since blossomed into a full-fledged calendar event that provided Christmas presents to more than 500 needy children.

People started lining up outside more than two hours before the doors opened.

And while each year is a little bit different for the longtime Manteca businessman and philanthropist, Waterford said that the generosity of the community and the stories of those that are assisted come without fail – filling his heart and renewing his faith during the holiest time of the year.

“This is the time of the year that celebrate the birth of our Lord and that’s always the most important aspect,” he said. “But the outpouring of support of the people of this community never ceases to amaze me. I haven’t heard it yet this morning, but every year there’s somebody that I meet that has that story – the kind of story that makes everything that goes into it worth it.

“This is all about making a difference in the lives of people.”

While Waterford buzzed around the showroom floor and glad-handed staff and friends and volunteers that helped make the event possible, Michael Pedras stood behind him – his intimidating frame providing a stark contrast to the suit-clad business apparel of the morning’s host.

Pedras, a former Navy Seal, didn’t have a smile on his face. He didn’t even seem overtly cheery.

But when he heard about several children that would be in attendance that had never owned a bicycle, he went out and purchased them on his own to make sure that they had the kind of Christmas that they’d never forget.

“It’s the season,” Pedras said. “Seeing all of these people here – it’s a great way to start the holiday.”

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