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Manteca senior helps with wild-game feed
Manteca High School senior Alice Mejorado, second from right, shares a light moment with fellow volunteers during the Costa's Wild-game feed Friday at the Manteca Trailer and Camper. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO
Alicia Mejorado doesn’t like seafood.
But there she was at the Costa’s Wild Game Feed Friday behind large aluminum food trays filled with fried calamari. She wasn’t eating them though. She was doling them out to the hundreds of visitors who showed up for the annual food fest featuring exotic dishes such as bear stew, barbecued deer patties, deep-fried wild turkey and pheasant, roasted boar and elk, antelope, and fried squid, among others.
“No, I’m not into wild-game food. I’ve tasted some before. I tasted halibut and it’s just not for me. I’m more into red meat like beef, pork, tri-tip,” said the Manteca High School senior.
It was not the food, however, that prompted her to offer her services to this annual fund-raiser. Donations collected from the dining guests’ free-will offerings are used to purchase gifts and necessities for needy families and individuals in the community. It’s all part of the giving tradition started by the late Joe Costa and later continued by his sons, Jim and Jessie, after they took over their father’s automotive repair shop on Button Avenue.
It’s that philanthropic focus of the Christmas celebration which inspired Mejorado to take this on as her senior project. She wanted to do a project that will mark a departure from the materialism that is often the focus of the season.
“Christmas has been so commercialized, and this has something to do with that,” she said of the main purpose of her senior project.
Working at the feed on Friday is just one part of her entire involvement with the project. And ladling up the fried calamari was only a fraction of the work she did that day.
“I’ve been here since 7:45 a.m. helping set up tables and chairs and condiments on the tables,” she said as she stood behind the long table lined with trays of exotic dishes next to fellow volunteer Sue Inglis who deftly served the food with one hand while the other arm held her granddaughter Rylee Inglis, 3, safely close by her side.
These days and up until two days before Christmas, Mejorado will be busy running around, shopping for gifts. But these will not be presents for her loved ones. They will be for the needy families and individuals who are on the list of recipients this year. Manteca businessman Bob Grasso and his wife Caron who are good friends of the Costas, are in charge of this part of the wild-game feed project. Grasso said money collected from Friday’s event will be used to purchase gifts for 80 people in the community. Wish lists have been obtained from the recipients even before the day of the feed so the volunteers know what to buy for them.
Mejorado is one of the dozens of volunteers who will be doing the purchasing, wrapping and delivering of the gifts to the people for whom they are intended.
“I do all that. I like it; it’s really nice,” said Mejorado who plans to get into the nursing program at Modesto Junior College after graduation and become a registered nurse like her mother, Diana, who works at Kaiser in Modesto.
Her father, George, works in demolition for W.C. Maloney in Stockton.