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Community pitches in to make Christmas a blessing for all, Colton Aid Network thanks supporters

PMG PHOTO: CINDY FAMA - Christmas basket volunteers take a break during pickup day before Christmas.The weekend before Christmas, Colton Aid Network volunteers sorted, counted and packed up food and toys for 174 people in the community including gifts for 82 children.

"Our small community always steps up to help those with a need," Geri Fraijo, CAN president said.

This year the boxes for Christmas dinner were filled with eggs, milk, butter, potatoes, rolls, celery, carrots, bananas, salad greens and hams. Each family also received an additional box filled with non-perishable foods collected through food drives by Colton Elementary and Colton High School students and the Colton Fire Department's door-to-door neighborhood food drive.

According to Kelly Stephens, the community gave cash donations of $2,135 with $1,722.51 going toward the purchase of fresh foods for the holiday meals to fill the box. The left over money will go for community needs during the year.

CAN would like to thank True Life Church, Colton Volunteer Firefighters, Goat Mountain Public House, Columbia Band and Colton Elementary and High Schools for their donations and support.

The Colton Fire Station offers their community room for the sorting and boxing and the fire truck bays for holding all the boxes and toy bags once they are completed and awaiting families.

The volunteers who helped put the boxes together, everything from sorting all the canned items, to boxing and helping to load it into cars, trucks and vans included John and Tara Graves, Ron Norton, Marcelo and Amanda Ramirez, Larry Benthin, Nan and Frank Kaneaster, Sarah and Josh Keirsey, Alan and Beth Fitch, Dana Howe, Michele Axmaker-Chapman, Carl and Kelly Stephens and Kyle Powell.

"We want to thank all our supporters," Fraijo said. "All who helped and contributed to making this year such a great success."

The smiles on faces as families received the boxes filled to the brim with fresh foods,a box of non-perishable food for later and a bag of toys with fulfilled wishes from the Gift of Giving cards, tells the story of how much everyone's participation is needed and appreciated.

The generosity of the Colton community can be told with this story, just one of many. When the Gift of Giving cards first came out one community member made it a point to get in touch with CAN to ask how many children were on the list. The caller showed up before Christmas with warm fleece blankets for each child on the list.

"This was so special and brings a warmth to me just the way it will to each of the children," volunteer, Tara Graves, said.

One volunteer, who wished to remain anonymous, said that when her family had some monetary difficulties they received holiday help through the Colton Aid Network's Christmas food and gift program and now she is thrilled to be able to help others.

Colton Volunteer Firefighters door-to-door

The volunteers with the Colton Fire Department boarded the department's fire rigs on Thursday, Dec. 19 and took to the streets going door-to-door collecting food donations for Colton Aid Network's Christmas food boxes. For the first time, the Elwood Fire Station opened its doors for donations and a chance for neighborhood children to meet the firefighters.

"The food drive was really a big success," Colton Aid Network coordinator Geri Fraijo said. "Our community is so generous."

KPTV donates to local charity

PMG PHOTO: CINDY FAMA - One of the helping elves goes through some of the toys that would make their way to local children's hands.This year Colton Helping Hands Food Bank was the recipient of donations from the KPTV toy drive. The line outside the pantry on Saturday, Dec. 21 was long but filled with smiling, happy faces. The toys inside were varied according to age. Each child, also, received a stuffed animal and Christmas stocking.

When the doors opened at 11 a.m., those waiting with anticipation, were greeted by Santa, his elves and helpers, cookies and hot chocolate and a room to choose toys for gifts for their family.

"We are so thankful to KPTV for their support of our town," Helping Hands coordinator Donna Fix said.

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