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The gift of life for troubled teens

Those buying a $75 ticket to Manteca’s biggest holiday party — the Soroptimists’ 40th annual Holiday Affair — will be getting more than an evening of light finger food and drinks for two, mingling with others, and a chance at a variety of raffle prizes.

They also will be helping provide the gift of help — and in some cases life — for troubled teens.

The Manteca tradition is marking its 40th year  on Wednesday,  Dec.  11, at the Bank of Stockton in the 600 block of North Main Street at 6 p.m. It is being staged by a small hardworking group of two dozen women whose service organization  gave life to a guiding star in 1987 that has helped countless Manteca-Lathrop teens find the way to escape dark places in their hearts and souls.

It was 32 years ago that a cluster of teen suicides rocked the community. Four promising lives ended in a suicide pact.

The Soroptimists — a collection of business and professional women brought together by the drive to serve the community — stepped up. They made a significant donation to help Manteca Unified secure on-campus counselors from Valley Community Counseling Services.

Support of teen crisis counseling in Manteca schools has become the club’s marquee project. To date, they have contributed more than $350,000 to the effort. It has paid dividends in keeping teens from losing their lives when dark thoughts overwhelm them.

Since 1987 the $75 ticket that several hundred people each year buy for  Holiday Affair buys help for teens struggling with darknesss — parents divorcing, a family member with substance abuse problems, the death of a parent or sibling, and dealing with other pressures to name a few.

 The first Holiday Affair event was held in December 1980 at Delta Bank and was a sellout with 350 tickets sold.  The grand prize was a new automobile.  After a few years, cars became too costly and the members decided to go to other very special door prizes.    

Other projects benefiting from the event include Raymus House, the Boys & Girls Club of Manteca, Modern Day Slavery program (human trafficking), Live  Your Dream and Dream it Be It programs. In addition, the Soroptimists will also award $17,000 in scholarships to local high school seniors early next year.  

Tickets to the Holiday Affair are $75. Each ticket that admits the holder and one guest are available at Tipton’s Stationery and Gifts. 169 W. Yosemite Ave.(209-823-7644).  You may also contact Connie Meintasis (209-823-5828) or Gayl Wilson (209-483-8187) or any other Soroptimist member.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email