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Hundreds share free breakfast at Manteca Ford
Beto Lupian, left, whose family just lost their home, lightens the mood at the end of the Christmas Eve breakfast line at the Manteca Ford dealership by blowing some bubbles for his sister Alondra. It was the second year Phil Waterford’s Manteca Ford Mercury hosted the free Christmas Eve breakfast and toy giveaway. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Marco Martinez couldn’t have looked happier as he climbed into his seat at Phil Waterford’s Manteca Ford Mercury Friday morning with his new Hot Wheels set in his hand.

For a 5-year-old, Martinez – who sat down with his family and had a full breakfast compliments of Waterford’s dealership and the Place of Refuge church in Manteca – looked like he was flying on cloud nine and things simply couldn’t get any better.

It was the sort of scene that made Waterford – who put Friday’s community breakfast and toy giveaway together with Pastor Mike Dillman for around 1,000 people – tear up when talking about it.

“This is the ultimate gift for me,” he said. “I’m just overwhelmed with emotion when I see the kids’ faces when they walk away with something for Christmas.

“These are difficult times for everybody, but as long as we’re in faith we’re right where we’re supposed to be.”

By networking with the community the organizers were able to get hundreds of toys donated to be given away to every child that showed up with their family to the second annual event.

The chance to win four bicycles was the highlight of the day for young Caleb Johnson, who examined every inch of them and waited with anticipation for the winning raffle numbers to be called out.

“It would be so much fun to ride this tomorrow morning,” Johnson said in reference to the Christmas holiday. “I’ve never had a new bike before, and I’ve been good all year. Maybe it’ll be me.”

The line Friday morning wrapped almost all the way around the dealership as people braved the chilly and foggy morning air for a free breakfast and a chance to watch their children sit on Santa’s lap.

Seeing the turnout impressed Louie Wyrsch of the Mid-Valley Chevy Club – an organization that donated more than a hundred toys earlier in the week to make sure that every child that came had something to take home with them.

“I think that this is just great – communities should do more things like this for people who are struggling,” he said. “For me it’s all about the kids. As adults we’ve all gotten everything that we’ve ever needed.

“Now’s the time to give to our children, and that’s what I see going on here today.”
And Waterford couldn’t thank those who helped the entire event together enough for their kindness.

“This wouldn’t be possible without the support of the citizens of this community,” he said. “These are people who give their time, money and resources to make sure that other people have something. I think that says a lot about this town.”