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Longtime volunteer is grand marshal of parade

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Longtime volunteer is grand marshal of parade

Ken Sanders – the Director of Maintenance and Logistics for Give Every Child A Chance – will be honored tonight as the Grand Marshal of the annual Manteca Christmas Parade.

JASON CAMPBELL/The Bulletin/


POSTED December 2, 2017 2:12 a.m.

When Ken Sanders gets done riding through the streets of Downtown Manteca tonight as the Grand Marshal of the annual Christmas Parade, he’s going to do what he always does when an event like this takes place in town.
He’s going to help clean up.
For more than a decade Sanders has been a staple at nearly every community event in Manteca – working in a variety of capacities behind the scenes to help make sure things go off without a hitch.
Operating in the shadows is exactly where Sanders wants to be, so much so that he wasn’t exactly bursting with joy over the opportunity to be honored in the parade.
“I told them they had the wrong number,” Sanders said with a straight face. “I didn’t want to come straight out and say that I didn’t want to do it, and after talking to some people I’ve decided that I’m going to take my daughter and my granddaughters in the car with me. I’m just more comfortable doing things behind the scenes,” Sanders said. “It’s an honor and I’m proud of the work that I do, I’m just not somebody that’s going to make a big deal out of it.”
It wasn’t until Sanders signed up for the Citizens Police Academy that he had the knack to volunteer in his own community and be a reliable part of everything from the Street Faire and the Pumpkin Fair to holiday events and parades.
Through contacts that he made participating in the now-defunct police program – including Manteca Police’s then-spokesman Rex Osborn – that opened a whole host of other doors for him, and as he was recovering from back surgery he figured he would bide the time by stepping up and helping where he can in the town he has called home for almost 30 years.
He’s been there ever since.
And the more he did, the more people he met and the more doors opened for him, eventually leading him to Give Every Child a Chance for a job maintaining the permanent office facilities and handling logistics.
When he looks back on all of the connections that he’s made and events and organizations that he has been part of – the Book Fest, the CERT team, any holiday event – it’s easy for him to see that they all connect back to the Citizen’s Police Academy and the feeling that he had to find something that he needed to do while he recuperated.
“If it wasn’t for that, I don’t know what my life would be like today,” he said, pausing. “It’s definitely a turning point and I’m proud of everything that came after that point. It has been hard work, but I’ve been proud to do my part to do it because it’s helping people and I enjoy that.
“I’m here at GECAC because it helps the kids, and that – helping people – is what drives me to do this?”
So, what’s next for a man who has been named an honorary Kiwanian, has a folder full of appreciation certificates for his work, and is now the Grand Marshal of his adopted hometown’s Christmas Parade?
Slowing down.
While his busy schedule hasn’t afforded him the opportunity to take up any hobbies, his daughter Amber and her twin girls – both aged three – have given him something other than his volunteer work to look forward to in his life.
All of them will be in a 1955 Chevy pickup truck – provided by Leo DeGroot – and Sanders said that as soon as he’s done he’s headed back to help clean-up or check things out at the Christmas in the Park function.
“It’s what I love to do,” he said with a laugh. “I’m looking to sharing this with my family, and slowing down a little bit – my body is telling me that it’s time to slow down. But helping is something that I love.”

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