Community Effort Brings Christmas to 500 Families


Make way for the Grinch! The Grinch is coming through!

Director David Cox called out as he shouldered a large Christmas
tree with green bulbs and trailing tinsel. St. Joseph’s Family
Center held its Christmas Sharing Day last Saturday, an annual
event which provides food, clothing, toys, books, and fun for 500
low income Gilroy families.
“Make way for the Grinch! The Grinch is coming through!” Director David Cox called out as he shouldered a large Christmas tree with green bulbs and trailing tinsel. St. Joseph’s Family Center held its Christmas Sharing Day last Saturday, an annual event which provides food, clothing, toys, books, and fun for 500 low income Gilroy families.

“I’m one of those Presbyterians you can’t get rid of,” a volunteer wearing snowman earrings said by way of introduction as she warmly welcomed other volunteers.

The event was held at the local Baptist Church where more than 50 volunteers assisted those in need.

“Families were already lining up by the time I got here at 7:15,” described book room volunteer Sherri Stuart. Many volunteers work all year behind the scenes in preparation for this one day of giving.

“Hey, Mommy, Winnie the Pooh!” one small child exclaimed, as she excitedly chose a donated book. Another child asked about coloring books, and crayons were in great demand.

Volunteers hope to have more of them to hand out next year. When you’re struggling to put food on the table, you don’t buy coloring books.

Watching a young boy dressed only in an adult size sweat shirt with no shoes or socks to wear during a time of year when temperatures have plummeted, Sgt. Dave Hill of the California Highway Patrol spoke with great compassion:

“We need more socks and shoes for these children,” he said as he knelt down to help find the right fit for a child out of the 50 pairs of shoes that had been donated.

Hill and a number of other officers were there to hand out the hundreds of jackets collected by students at Ascencion Solorsano Middle School. Principal Sal Tomasello oversees the jacket drive all year.

Children lined up to ask for the pens and other souvenirs the officers brought to hand out. Every kid wanted a stick-on badge to wear.

Officers Armstrong, Alexander, Clark, and several other officers gave rides to those who needed transportation home with their Christmas boxes.

Richard Howell’s family has volunteered every year for five years to take photos of the children with Santa.

His daughter Chrissie (Gilroy High class of ’87 valedictorian) has worked as an ornithologist in places as far away as South Africa, but always makes a point of coming back to Gilroy in time to volunteer at the Christmas Sharing Day. She quickly prints each child’s Santa photo for them to take home with them.

As the day goes on, and things begin to wind down, everyone gets a little silly.

Soon, adults are coming in for their own photo ops with Santa, and he invites them to sit on his lap. Then Sergeant Hill runs over and sits in Santa’s lap for a funny photo op.

As a child of about three observes this, he gets an idea. He motions for Santa to clear out of the way. “Why am I being evicted?!” Santa pouts as he gets up out of the chair and everyone laughs.

Suddenly, Sgt. Hill plops down in Santa’s spot. Ahh, it becomes clear: the young man doesn’t want a photo with Santa; he wants his taken with the CHP Officer.

As Sgt. Hill holds the tiny Hispanic boy on his lap, and they lean in to pose together for their photo, you can’t help but feel that this is what Christmas is all about.

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