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Police serve hot meal, provide warm clothing
Shantell, right, enjoys a hot lunch Saturday at Library Park courtesy Manteca Police Department staff. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Karon Calhoun pulled her bike into Library Park, picked out a new winter jacket and sat down for a hot holiday meal.

It was a welcome break from the homeless hustle that she goes through on a daily basis just to survive. It was also a chance to secure some warm cold-weather garb to help her make it through the below-freezing nights that have been standard fare over the course of the past week.

And it was all compliments of the Manteca Police Employees Association.

“It’s a chance for us to give back to those in need. Most of us have all that we need, and we can give a little bit of what we have,” said dispatcher and reserve police officer Dave Jones. “We collected some coats and made these meals to give out – it’s what Christmas is all about.”

Roughly a dozen people packed the tables in the Library Park on Saturday for a chance to sit down and eat after picking through the stack of jackets, coats and sweaters that were free for the taking.

Calhoun – who has had some run-ins with police officers in the past sent to take down her encampments – said the entire event proved to her that just because they have to do a job doesn’t make them bad people.

“This shows that they’re not all out to get us,” Calhoun said after chatting with officer Mike Kelly. “They didn’t have to come out here and do this today, and it’s really cool that they did. Just a little bit of help like this means a lot and goes a long way, and I’m thankful that they’re here.”

Wanda Whiten cruised up on her bicycle just in time to get herself a hot Christmas meal. She was more than thrilled with her selection of a San Francisco Giants pullover jacket that she threw on immediately after eating.

While she didn’t consider herself homeless, taking a little bit of assistance, she said, is never a bad thing because it reminds you of how quickly things in your world can change.

“It’s always good to be able to sit down with friends and have a get meal,” Whiten said. “You never know where you’re going to end up in life. It’s great that they’re down here doing this because it helps so many people out that really don’t have anywhere else to turn.”