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WE CARE effort delivers gifts for 185 seniors
Manteca Fire Engineer Derek George loads up gifts for seniors before heading out to make deliveries as part of the WE CARE Community, Action, Referral and Education effort. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

The “We CARE” Angel Tree Project at the Manteca Senior Center continues to grow.

What started out with 100 seniors with Christmas wish lists some three years ago has now branched out to 185.

That’s according to Brandy Clark – she’s the Recreation Supervisor / Manteca Senior, Preschool Programs, Teen Activities for the City of Manteca – who orchestrated the distribution of hundreds of gifts on Friday.

She had plenty of support.

Included were those from the Senior Center, the Police Chief Foundation, the Jeff Burkhardt Memorial Foundation, the Manteca Police Department Officers Association, the Manteca Fire Department, SHARP, SAFE, and city staff, to name a few.

The Senior Center held a Nintendo Wii Bowl-A-Thon, raising $300 for the cause.

The Senior Advisory Committee and the Youth Advisory Commission also chipped in, Clark said.

Together, they donated to the cause, purchasing unwrapped Christmas gifts taken from one of the decorated “ornaments” – a wish list, in this case, representing local seniors who are either lonely, homebound, or with very low income – on the tree located in the Senior Center lobby.

Denean Santos, a technician for the Center, took on the task of wrapping “hundreds and hundreds of gifts” while bringing in volunteers to help out, Clark said.

In addition, monetary donations and gift cards were accepted.

“We used those donations to purchase gifts for those who were not adopted (from the Angel Tree),” said Clark. “We made sure no one was left behind.”

 The Angel Tree made for happier holiday to four local families. Each received food baskets made possible from the donations, Clark noted.

“This event keeps getting better every year,” she said.

Clark and Laura Pearre of Prestige Senior Living planted the seed for the “We Care” Angel Tree project in 2010.

“This evolved during our discussions about a senior project (with the Senior Center and Prestige),” Clark said.

WE CARE — Community, Action, Referral, and Education — is an organization that strives to make low-income seniors and other elderly aware of available community resources.

More information on the Angel Tree Project can be obtained by calling 209-456-8650.