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Lathrop-Manteca firefighters play Santa

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Lathrop-Manteca firefighters play Santa

Lathrop-Manteca Firefighters Association members Kevin Wallace, left, and Tim Kovacs with some of the gifts donated for Thursday's 11th annual Christmas party hosted by the organization for needy f...

ROSE ALBANO RISSO/The Bulletin


POSTED December 16, 2009 2:15 a.m.
LATHROP – It’s a party that only gets bigger and brighter each year for area families feeling the economic pinch.

That’s the Christmas gathering hosted annually by the members of the Lathrop-Manteca Firefighters Association. This year, the extravaganza that includes dinner with all the trimmings, gifts for all the children, and a visit by Santa will be held Thursday at the Grace Community Church located next door to Fire Station #1 on J Street in Lathrop. The party will begin at 6 p.m.

Joining the firefighters, working on their own time as hosts of this holiday party are their spouses and other community volunteers like Joyce Gatto who makes Christmas stocking for the children every year. Gatto is the wife of fire district board chairman Bennie Gatto.

Firefighter Kevin Wallace, who has coordinated this Christmas party for the last four years, said their guests this year will be 32 families and 83 kids. The wrapped gifts that will be distributed to each child come from the Gift Drive for Kids Giving Tree that was set up in the lobby at Lathrop City Hall. Donors were asked to pick a tree ornament containing the wish lists of various needy children in the community.

Thursday’s event will mark the 11th year in a row the firefighters union has hosted the Christmas party for needy families in the community.

Something new this year will be Christmas caroling and group singing by members of the Sierra High School Choir, Wallace said.

In the last few years, there were usually four or five people providing musical entertainment for the guests, he said. He expects there will be more of them this time. In fact, “I hope the whole choir will show up,” Wallace said.
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