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Sharing the small town spirit with newcomers
The King family makes their way down Main Street during Manteca’s annual Independence Day parade staged by the Sunrise Kiwanis on Saturday. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin
So you want to get a feel for your town - newcomers and old-timers alike?

We all often miss the boat in appreciating the esprit d’ corps, the glue if you will, that holds residents to the heart of the community.

The spirit we hold dear has a lot to do with the volunteers in town involved with the service clubs and the churches who continue to step up to the plate.

There are also those patriotic folks who haven’t given up their nine year effort so far to put out 2,400 American flags before dawn along  the major streets on those red letter holidays.

The July 4th weekend started with the Kiwanis Club Pancake Breakfast. It is a good example of-that cohesive element that holds a town together through the good times and the bad.

The numbers are down in that noontime club but others were quick to step in to carry on the tradition.  Firemen - regulars and reserves -were there flipping pancakes.  Students in the community also help make the morning another success.

Many of the local natives are hesitant to mix into the fray as are the newer residents because they fail to see the value of breaking the ice with strangers in the community whether over pancakes and eggs or sitting on the curb at Saturday’s parade or at the fireworks at Big League Dreams.

The hometown “feel ” is alive and well for those who are brave enough to talk with strangers and learn some of that homespun history that has made the fabric of what Manteca it is today.

Breakfast sets the
tone for weekend
While my wife and I were only at the pancake breakfast for half an hour, it was time well spent getting to chat with some special people from our yesterdays in town. It set the tone for our weekend.

And for the people who are not involved in a club like Kiwanis, Rotary, Soroptimist or Lions, it is almost impossible to feel the pulse of the community.  These service clubs allow their members to “give back” to the community and make the community a better place to live.  It’s sad that more aren’t motivated to join one of these organizations.

The Saturday morning Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast is more than just a ham and eggs fete every year. More importantly the profits go back to the community in the form of high school scholarships and help for CAPS that supports handicapped adults.

All of the fireworks booths that were open in town give back to residents from churches to the Manteca Police Officers Association effort at the corner of Yosemite Avenue and Union Road.  That booth usually nets $4,000 to $5,000 that the cops use in a market basket buying spree at Target, buying Christmas toys and clothes for the less fortunate children in and around the city.

It’s another one of those special times a person can feel the warmth, the togetherness of the people who make up this place we call home.  Admittedly the community has its share of problems from a gang element to too many home burglaries - but it also has its positive sides where people work hard to make a difference.

Teens step up
to help out as well
It was a good “feel” Friday night to witness the high school aged Police Explorers working with Manteca officers at the DUI check point on Yosemite Avenue.  Those teens are the best and they are quick to go the extra mile in everything they do.

And speaking of the check point, it was good to witness officers’ restraint when a motorist refused to roll down his window for agents as he drove into the cone lane.  He continued to ignore lawful orders to roll down the window and to exit his car, citing a supposed ruling that he didn’t have to produce identification as he was a militia member.

The Manteca officers demonstrated extensive patience and hesitated making an arrest for failing to respond to lawful orders - a license check showing employment by the state Department of Corrections.

The latest adventure for a Manteca group wanting to make a difference is the creation of a therapy dog club that will encourage its members to make regular visits to nursing homes and retirement communities with their trained canines.  An exciting experience is on the horizon for the many shut-ins in the community

Where else could we find a woman like Susie Beeler who would start a one-woman effort in her retirement to send gift packs to service men and women overseas. It is an effort that drew total support of the Soroptimist Club and others in further expanding he shipments to the troops.

The Manteca (noon) Rotary Club as well as the Morning Rotary and the Morning Kiwanis Club must also be mentioned for their respective fund raisers from the golf tournaments and the Super Bowl Sunday Omelet Breakfast to the Kiwanis Pumpkin Festival - they all make a positive difference.

It’s all about volunteering in today’s busy lives.  The service clubs are in need of more members -- life can only get better through their collective effort to make Manteca an even better place to live.

Time is a fleeting and precious commodity.  Find time for a service club - you’ll be glad you did!