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Ray of Hope seeking people to help with kids’ Christmas wishes
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With the holiday season on the horizon, Ray of Hope is gearing up for its annual Christmas Guardian Angel Program.

“This is the time of year the scrolls with a child’s three wishes goes out to the community,” said Laura Vieira-Saunders, who is the CEO of the local children’s crisis and resource services.

Scrolls will become available beginning on Nov. 23 at two Manteca locations – Chick-fil-A drive-thru restaurant at 1234 E. North St. and Chit Chat Café & Bakery at 273 W. Louise Ave.

“When they reached out to us, we were more than grateful,” Vieira-Saunders said.

Neither business will be drop-off points for the gifts. That honor, rather, goes to the Manteca Police Department (1001 W. Center St.), Manteca Fire Department headquarters (1154 Union Rd.), Cabral Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram Fiat (1145 W. Yosemite Ave.) and Pro-Touch Automotive (255 Moffat Blvd.).

“We are so grateful to them for allowing us the space for people to drop off gifts securely,” Vieira-Saunders added.

More so than gifts, Ray of Hope is in need of food.

According to Vieira-Saunders, her non-profit organization has been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic at every level, especially the Kids’ Cupboard, which is used to feed the neediest of youth in the community.

“(This is) proving to be a year where parents are in need of help with Christmas and Christmas dinner for their children,” she said.

Ray of Hope, with an already full caseload, is dealing with the pandemic and unemployment among families – phones are constantly ringing off the hook and referrals from the San Joaquin County Child Protective Services, Child Abuse Protection Council, and Human Service Agency, to name a few, are being faxed in all day.

“This has been a year we will never forget,” said Vieira-Saunders, who looks at the Christmas Guardian Angel Program with the promise of brightening up the moment.

“It’s a day that kids can just be kids and not focused on their circumstances,” she noted.

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