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Lathrop Manteca firefighters helping struggling families
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LATHROP — The Lathrop-Manteca Firefighters Association is doing their part to make sure that families in need of assistance still get the chance to sit down and break bread on Christmas Day.

On Tuesday, Dec. 21, the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 4317 will be hosting their 11th annual Christmas for Kids event at Grace Community Church – providing a true holiday experience for families in and around the community that don’t have the means to celebrate the most revered of holidays with a little bit of help.

According to Event Chairman Kevin Wallace, the organizing committee – of which he has been a part for the last five years – went to the Head Start program in Lathrop to find children who needed help and in turn placed a card on the tree at Lathrop’s City Hall so that those in the community wishing to help could take a peek at the child’s wish list and make sure they get something that puts a smile on their face.

While the event is sponsored by the firefighters association, Wallace believes that by reaching out to people with big hearts the event becomes a true community function that ultimately benefits the children.

“For me, this event brings a lot of joy to my heart and I feel great about being able to do this for families in this community that need assistance – especially with the economy the way that it is right now,” Wallace said. “It’s an event that’s sponsored by our union, but when we get people that go out of their way to select presents for children, it truly does become a community function and that makes it even more special.”

Thanks to sponsorship from Baskin Robbins and Mountain Mikes Pizza – both of Lathrop – the families being selected this year will be fed a pizza dinner with ice cream for dessert, and all children will get a chance to sit on Santa’s lap before being given the present purchased by somebody in the Lathrop community.

Once the festivities wrap-up, all families will be given a complimentary Christmas dinner to prepare so that they too can celebrate the holidays in the comfort of their own home.

Even though the community has stepped up to sponsor the individual children, making sure that everything else is covered this year took some extra assistance from the association.

“This is the first year that I’ve actually had to go to the union and ask them for additional funds to make this all possible,” Wallace said. “There’s a lot of work that goes into this, and I’ve learned that things always work themselves out – there really aren’t very many reasons to stress out about anything.

“Once the day gets here and we get the chance to see the smiling faces and all of the happy families, all of the work will have been completely worth it.”

The 11th annual Christmas for Kids program will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 21, at 6 p.m. at Lathrop’s Grace Community Church – located at 850 J. Street in Lathrop.