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Manteca Ford serves 500+ Christmas Eve breakfast
Manteca Ford Mercury owner Phil Waterford and Place of Refuge Pastor Mike Dillman share a moment during a free community breakfast sponsored by both entities Christmas Eve morning. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL
Phil Waterford didn’t want to see people go without during the holiday season.

So by partnering up with The Place of Refuge Pastor Mike Dillman, Waterford opened the doors to his Ford dealership and welcomed anyone in the community who wanted a hot breakfast on Christmas Eve. It gave the local businessman a chance to give back to the community.

But while times in the automotive industry might be tough at the current moment, Waterford realizes that the hard times are everywhere. He wanted to do anything possible to bring a smile to the face of those who may be facing the worst.

“Somebody asked me today what they could put underneath my tree this year,” said Waterford – holding back tears as he thought about the dealership full of needy residents. “I told them that all my needs are met, and all that I wanted was to see people in need get relief.

“That is the ultimate Christmas gift.”

According to Dillman, events like the one held Thursday put the overall needs of the community into perspective. It gives to those who don’t realize how great the need actually is the chance to see first hand how many people can use the assistance.

“This really shows what folks right here in Manteca are going through, and while a lot of us are blessed with not having to worry about things like this, not everybody is,” Dilman said. “We turned away a lot of volunteers this morning because they all wanted to help, and that says a lot about the community and the Christmas spirit.

A team of volunteers started preparing the hot breakfast – which consisted of pancakes, eggs, bacon, and sausage – just before 8 a.m.

It didn’t take long before the line wrapped outside the building and around the corner – a sign to Waterford that the need here in the community is greater than many people expected.

One volunteer – Danell McCleary – spent her morning refilling the trays of eggs that quickly emptied as the guests filtered through the lobby.

“This is all about giving to people who need and it’s about what Christ would do in this situation,” McCleary said. “It’s a blessing to be able to come down here and help those who need it.

“We have a blessed life and to be able to share that with somebody is what this holiday and this season is all about.”