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A Christmas miracle: Mantecans helping Love I.N.C. play Santa
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Stephen Parsons firmly believes nothing is impossible with God. That He is someone who miraculously turns desperation into something “unbelievable” and “phenomenal” to the “wow” degree especially at Christmas time.

The Manteca Love I.N.C. (Love In the Name of Christ) director used the words in quotation marks to describe the positive turn of events that has been happening during the last few days to their annual Children’s Christmas Gift Program.

Late last week, the director of the non-profit charitable organization was just about resigned with a “heavy heart” to the “distinct possibility” that not just a few but maybe several of the nearly 100 children on the waiting list for Christmas gifts will be left empty-handed come gift-distribution time.

“I need the community to help,” said a worried Parsons whose organization has been conducting this love-in-action program to the area’s needy children every Christmas for the last three years.

“We don’t want any kids to be left behind,” he firmly stated.

Some of the children, said Parsons, are from struggling families that are “close to homeless,” with two that are actually homeless and are temporarily staying at a shelter. Many of them are children of single moms, said Love I.N.C. board member and volunteer Bob Mitchell.

But fast forward to Wednesday, and Parsons was singing his praises to God and the miracle that has been happening since the plight of Love I.N.C.’s gift-giving program ran in the Bulletin a few days ago. At the time, there were 262 children who needed gifts, with 93 on the waiting list. And with the Christmas gift distribution just a few days away, the program was in desperate need of generous donors so that no child will be left empty-handed.

In sharp contrast to his heavy-laden voice last week, Parsons’ tone on Wednesday was upbeat, hopeful, and thankful. “We’re doing well,” thanks to the newspaper story that prompted many generous individuals in the community to step up to the plate, he said.

“It’s just unbelievable. God is just…, wow!” he said of the people’s response to Love I.N.C.’s plea for help. “I think we’re going to make it. Thank you for your coverage.”

Several people who wanted to help called the Bulletin to say that Love I.N.C.’s telephone number which was listed in the story appeared to be out of order with nobody answering the phone, not even a voice mail. Parsons explained that the “telephone voice mail was full for a while on Sunday” but it’s working now.

“The office phones are now manned from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day till Christmas,” he said.

Donations for the Children’s Christmas Gift Program may be brought to Love I.N.C.’s office at 965 E. Yosemite Avenue, Space #20. Parsons said the business complex is just two doors east of Powers Avenue and is right next to the Planned Parenthood office.

The program is quite unique in that gifts donated by people who “adopt” the children for Christmas will be given to the parents who will then decide whether to mark the gifts as coming from “Mom” and/or “Dad” or from “Santa.” Parsons would like to receive all donated gifts by Friday, Dec. 16. The gift distribution will take place Tuesday, Dec. 20, at one of the churches in the area.

Those who don’t have the time to shop for the children’s gifts but would like to help can still do so in the form of cash donations which are tax-deductible.

For additional questions about the Children’s Christmas Gift Program, call Love I.N.C. at (209) 825-9131.