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1,500 expected for free breakfast Christmas Eve at Manteca Ford
Manteca Ford Mercury owner Phil Waterford and Louie Wyrsch of the Mid-Valley Chevy Club look over the toys that club members donated for the free community breakfast and toy giveaway that the dealership will hold the morning of Christmas Eve. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL
Phil Waterford wants to make sure that the less fortunate have something to smile about for Christmas.

On Friday morning, Waterford – who owns and oversees operations at Manteca Ford Mercury and Exotic High Line – will welcome the entire community to his Main Street dealership for the second annual Christmas Eve breakfast and children’s toy giveaway. Organizers expect up to 1,500 people to drop by.

Inside at a corner of his dealership, more than a hundred toys – including three brand-new bicycles – are waiting to be handed out to those in the community that take part in what Waterford plans on turning into an annual event.

It was through his connection to the Place of Refuge Church and a close association with Pastor Mike Dillman that Waterford came up with the concept that debuted last year.

“All you have to do is look at how the economy hasn’t improved and the unemployment rate we have here in San Joaquin County to realize that things aren’t going well for everybody,” Waterford said. “By working with Pastor Dillman we’re hoping to carry the message of hope to those here in Manteca that need it the most.”

He’s getting help from the Mid-Valley Chevy Club in the form of almost a hundred presents that will be given away to the boys and girls who show up Friday morning with their families.

On Monday afternoon, Waterford chatted with Louie and Jewell Wyrsch from the car club as they lined up the toys in the corner at the dealership’s showroom in preparation for Friday’s big event.

Last year more than 750 people filtered through the doors, and Waterford expects to have twice that many this year.

“What’s great about this is that the entire community come together to put this on,” Waterford said. “This isn’t about me or this dealership. This is about the joy of Christmas being shared with people during tough economic times. That’s what this is all about.”

Corporate sponsors this year include Wal-Mart, Orchard Supply Hardware, Costco, Save Mart, Walgreen’s, Starbucks, McDonalds, Foster Farms and the Mid Valley Chevy Club. Nulaid Foods of Ripon is also providing all of the eggs for the breakfast.

The event begins at 6:30 a.m. Friday morning.

Toy donations are still being accepted, and can be dropped off at 555 N. Main Street in Manteca. For additional information about volunteering or to schedule a toy drop off, call 239-3561.