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Giving Tree effort takes aim at gifts for elderly
Chris Kohl, owner of Precision Automotive in Manteca, shows off two of the Christmas Giving Tree decorations at his place of business. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO
There are a lot of Giving Trees that are geared for the very young. But rare are the ones that target seniors who are spending the holidays in a care home or rehab center.

Chris and Shelley Kohl, owners of Precision Automotive in Manteca, discovered this need three years ago and decided to fill it. The Christmas tree in their office on the corner of Moffat and Garfield Street is not just for decoration. It does double duty as The Giving Tree. That is actually the main reason it’s there.

The handmade tree trimmings are beautiful by themselves. Each one of them was handmade by Shelley Kohl with plenty of help coming from the members of Girl Scout Troop #459 in Manteca led by Troop Leader Julie Beer.

The dozen members adopted the tree-trimming activity as their group project at their Nov. 20 regular meeting held in the John McFall Room of the Manteca Public Library, said Shelley.

“We did the majority of them that night,” she said of the more than 100 tree trimmings containing the wish list of all the patients and residents at Manteca Care and Rehab Center at Crestwood Avenue off Northgate Drive in Manteca.

Additional help was provided by Precision Auto’s service writer Ted Atkins, a member of Crossroads Grace Community Church.
Items on the wish list written in the back of each tree decoration were put together by Kimberly Harper, activities director at the care and rehab center. Each trimming contains about three different items that each care home resident either want or need.

To put a grateful smile on the faces of one or two of the care home residents – perhaps even more if one can afford to do it – all you have to do is stop by Precision Auto and select a decoration.

“You’re not obligated to buy all of the items on the list; any effort shown is appreciated,” Shelley said.

The items are not terribly expensive that they threaten to break your budget or your bank – many of those requested are clothes such as sweat shirts and/or pants, perfume and other basic needs.

Donors are requested to bring the gifts back to Precision Automotive by Dec. 18 unwrapped but, if possible, accompanied by an extra-large gift bag, Shelley said.

The gifts will be distributed to the residents at their annual Christmas party at 2 p.m. on Dec. 24, but Shelley said she needs the extra time for various reasons.

“I need to wrap them and put everything together, or go do some shopping if a tag (trimming with wish list) did not get taken,” she explained.

But that may be unlikely if history repeats itself. “There was not one person left out; there wasn’t one bulb left over (on the tree),” Shelley said.

She is asking donors not to wrap the gifts to make it easy for her to organize the gift bags.

Shelley said that before they started the Giving Tree, some of the residents at the care home did not have gifts at all.

“They were lucky if everybody had gifts,” she said.

Many times, the gifts were purchased by the staff at the care home, she added.

To pick up a tree trimming or two, stop by Precision Automotive Monday to Friday any time between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. The office is closed from noon to 1 p.m.

If further details are needed, call 456-7656.

Manteca Rehab Center is located at 410 Eastwood Avenue in Manteca.

Donors are asked to return the tag along with the donated items.