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There’s still time to volunteer time this holiday season

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Members of Copper Hills 4-H Club fill a Mark Twain Union Elementary School District bus with toys donated by the community during the Stuff a Bus and Tree Lighting event in Copperopolis. 

This holiday season, so far, in the Mother Lode has seen some heartwarming acts of community service, and there is still time to be a part of it.

On Dec. 7, Copperopolis locals “stuffed a bus” with toys before the tree lighting in the town square.

The event was organized by CV Development Partners, which owns The Square, The Golf Club and several other properties in the newly renamed Copper Valley development. One of the partners, Mike Fletcher, said they hope to make the toy drive at The Square an annual tradition.

“It’s been so neat, because almost every child I’ve seen come in has been carrying a present to put in a bus,” Fletcher said. “It’s been really neat to see because I think a lot of them are giving away presents they don’t want to get rid of.”

CV Development was able to donate an additional $1,000 in toys to the drive when the horse that was slated to pull the Christmas carriage during the tree lighting unfortunately fell lame.

“We have so many nice people, and so many people have gotten engaged,” Fletcher said.

Copper Hills 4-H Club members volunteered to collect toys for the drive at the Square, loading a Mark Twain Union Elementary School District bus with presents for all ages, including stuffed animals, dolls and bikes. The club also donated $500 in gift cards.

“I wanted to help out everyone for today to fill up a bus, because I heard a bunch of kids don’t have anything for Christmas, and I think that’s really upsetting,” 12-year-old 4-H member Gabby Martinez told the Enterprise while standing between rows of bus seats filled with toys.

Gabby’s father, Langley Martinez, is the leader of Copper Hills 4-H and also an employee at CalTel, a local telephone company that hosted its own toy drive to stuff the bus.

Once all of the toys were loaded on the bus, Toys for Tots coordinator Rich Peters arrived with a Resource Connection Food Bank van to transport the items for distribution.

This year, the food bank has already handed out 440 toy vouchers to Calaveras County families in need, and Peters expects that number may surpass 600 by the Resource Connection’s Santa’s Express distribution day on Dec. 16.

According to food bank Manager Tina Mather, it isn’t too late to volunteer for Santa’s Express, which will display all of the countywide toy donations at Mountain Oaks Charter School for parents to collect.

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Salvation Army volunteer Joe Jackson rings a bell to alert charitable consumers to donation opportunities during the Murphys Open House and Christmas Parade. 

The Resource Connection still needs volunteers to help set up toys on Dec. 14, as well as “personal shoppers” to guide parents through the selection on Dec. 16. Additionally, volunteers are needed to load holiday meals into food bank vans to be delivered to families throughout the county on Dec. 16.

For those without time who still want to give, cash donations can be dropped at the food bank or mailed to P.O. Box 1656, San Andreas, CA 95249. The food bank will also continue to collect toys for its holiday drive until Dec. 14. Toys can be donated through Toys for Tots and can also be dropped off at the San Andreas office, 206 George Reed Drive, San Andreas.

For more information on how to get involved this season and year-round, call the Resource Connection at 754-2000.

Another charitable entity bringing holiday joy to Calaveras County is the Salvation Army, which is still in need of enthusiastic bell-ringers, according to longtime volunteer Joe Jackson.

“We’re really short on volunteers in Murphys,” said Jackson, who rang a bell next to a classic red kettle during the Murphys Open House on Dec. 6. “The great thing about this time of year is that 100% of proceeds go to Calaveras County. … The money stays here in the county to help people who really need it.”

Jackson said that the annual parade and holiday festival is the biggest giving time of the year in Murphys.

“People are just so happy to give, and especially when they know it’s helping people locally,” he said.

To learn more about the Salvation Army Calaveras County Unit, call 754-1257.

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Dakota graduated from Bret Harte in 2013 and went to Davidson College, NC where she earned a bachelor's degree in Arab studies. After spending time studying in the Middle East and Europe, she is happy to be home, writing about the community she loves.

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