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Lighting the way to help needy
Brock display raises $3,000 for food bank
A smiling Renee Brock holds the Certificate of Appreciation from Second Harvest Food Bank as she talks to the visitors who came to see the Christmas lights Tuesday night. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO
Every Christmas for the last 10 years, the awe-inspiring residential festival of lights at Mercedes and Bugatti streets in Manteca has been a visual feast to thousands of people.

What many probably do not know, though, is that this yuletide spectacle has also been instrumental in providing creature comforts to the sick, the hopeless, and the hungry not just in Manteca but across the country as well.

That philanthropic byproduct of the Brock family’s annual Christmas attraction was recognized by at least one of the recipients Tuesday night when Second Harvest Food Bank director Mike Mallory, accompanied by his administrative assistant Alanna Robins, surprised the family with a certificate of appreciation presentation. The impromptu event was held beneath the glittering lights of 144,000 Christmas lights, with Renee Brock receiving the framed certificate. Her husband, Dale, who is the designer/creator/builder of this gargantuan project that gets started in September, was not home and was unable to join his wife to personally receive the award.

The message to the Brocks on the certificate reads: “This certificate is awarded to BROCK CHRISTMAS HOUSE for lighting up the community during the holiday season and for the generous contribution to Second Harvest Food Bank that will be a shining light all year long helping ease the pain that hunger brings.”

Mallory said Second Harvest has received a combined donation of $3,000 in the last two years from the Brocks.
“It was an amazing donation,” Mallory said of the money that came from the family.

The Brocks brighten up the lives of many people in the community at Christmas with their festival of lights, and now those lights are helping those who are hungry, he said.

“We just wanted to thank you for giving back to the community and helping feed the hungry,” Robins told a genuinely surprised Renee Brock.

Funds come from the generosity of people who come to see the lights
Brock said the funds come from people who, as their way of saying thanks to the family for brightening up their holiday, insist on offering a donation to help the family with their electricity bill at Christmas. Some visitors also leave donations for helping themselves to the cookies and hot coffee that the Brock family serves some evenings.

“A lot of people like to give us (money) but we always say no,” Brock explained.

So instead of using the funds to help defray their utility bills, the Brocks decided to donate all of the money to charity. The first beneficiary was Make-a-Wish Foundation. Another year, they gave the money to St. Jude’s Hospital. The last two years, it was the Second Harvest Food Bank in Manteca which supplies food to 21 nonprofit agencies that provide food for the needy in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.

Christmas lights is an annual labor of love
Decorating the house at Christmas is literally a labor of love for Dale Brock who starts building the complicated framework as early as September

“He has it down to a science now,” Renee said with a laugh.

He also gets a helping hand each year from relatives including his twin brother, and various nieces and nephews.

But this year’s project is a special and memorable one for the family, especially for Dale.

“We made national news!” said an excited Renee.

CBS Channel 13 in Sacramento held a Christmas decoration contest and the Brock house was chosen as the overall winner.

“I was like Rocky the night they announced the winner; I was jumping up and down with my hands in the air,” said a very enthused Renee who was actually cheering for her husband.

“That was the feather on his cap this year,” she said, her eyes twinkling with excitement.

Renee has every right to be that excited. After all, she is the reason the Christmas lights are there to begin with.
For many years, she has asked her husband to put up some decorative lights at Christmas without any results. Ten years ago, her husband finally granted her wish by hanging not just a few lights outside their house but thousands of them all around the house, throughout the yard and even above the roof. Dale’s creation was so ambitious and complicated that it got the attention of the people at City Hall who told him he needed to get a permit for some of the aerial posts he was installing. That little bump in the Brock family’s Christmas project was eventually ironed out and the rest, as they say, is history.

The lights will be turned on tonight and Thursday (New Year’s Eve) before going dark.  Mercedes is reached by taking Parkview Street off South Union Road (just north of Wawona.