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160 kids may go without Christmas gifts
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Love Inc executive director Stephen Parsons and his assistant are working diligently to serve 160 needy children in the greater Manteca community. They have recently moved from the 900 block of East Yosemite Avenue to West Center Street adjacent to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. - photo by GLENN KAHL

Love INC staff and volunteers are feverishly looking for individuals or businesses willing to make last minute donations toward the Christmas gifts of 160 needy youngsters in the greater Manteca community.

Executive Director Stephen Parsons said the recent move of the charity’s office as well as a slow economy has apparently hampered the giving from those who have in the past just walked through their doors with checks in hand to save Christmas for many children.  The organization is now operating out of the former site of Love Thy Neighbor and later the South County Crisis Center on West Center Street adjacent to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.

Love INC (In the Name of Christ) has scheduled deliveries for Thursday evening for 359 children – 160 of those are presently not covered by donations.  Parsons is hoping that several large donors will step up to the plate for clothes and food needs for the children.  They are critical, he said.

The charity serves as a central information “clearing house” site for 14 out of 33 churches in Manteca who they direct to the food closets and clothes closets in the community.  It is an organization that helps churches serve members of their congregations and others that are in need. 

Parsons, who comes from a mortgage profession, says he is a number cruncher and found himself falling into a homeless ministry six years ago in Manteca’s Library Park.  From there he joined the nationwide Love INC network in Manteca.

The organization has 157 sites across the nation active in filling in the gaps of the less fortunate.

Parsons said the people who are sent to his office undergo a 10-minute interview to determine how many children there are in the family and assess their individual needs. 

“We don’t want any youngsters to go without,” he said.

“The volunteer workers are trained to ask questions to learn the makeup of the families,” he said. 

Each child is given a number to prevent repetitive support, that would leave others in need.  A team of some 45 volunteers from a variety of churches serve the Love Inc effort, with Parsons saying they all have their hearts in the right place. 

Parsons is hoping for additional donations today, saying he doesn’t want to have to call parents tonight and say he doesn’t have enough in resources to serve their children this Christmas.

The names of targeted children come from the Manteca Unified School District and are organized through the Manteca Soroptimist Club.  The women’s service club effort begins on Oct. 1.  Love Inc launched its support of children early in November.

A number of the Love Inc children were included in Saturday’s shopping spree with personnel of the Manteca Police Department at Walmart.