Brighter Christmas

Nadine Koochou (from left), Maria Turner and Louise Fantone wait to carry boxes of toys to a family at the Brighter Christmas distribution Sunday morning at Williams Middle School.

Dozens of volunteers packed hundreds of boxes of food and toys for Brighter Christmas of Tracy to distribute to local people Sunday at Williams Middle School.

The charity began its 42nd year in November, taking applications from families in need and visiting their homes. The annual jail-and-bail fundraiser Dec. 3 raised more than $8,000. Food drives at local schools and businesses supplied canned goods and other nonperishables. And shoppers bought gifts through the Angel Tree at the West Valley Mall and a toy drive at Walmart.

On Saturday morning, volunteers spent about three hours packing 625 food boxes at a warehouse on Arbor Road. Along with a box of canned fruits and vegetables, cereal, pasta, boxed mashed potatoes and other items, each Brighter Christmas recipient received a gift card to pay for a meat of their choice.

On Saturday afternoon, more volunteers packed hundreds of boxes of gifts for families. Each child up to 13 years old received three new toys along with a family game, a stuffed animal and a ball.

Most of the boxes were picked up Sunday at Williams Middle School, and volunteers made home deliveries to people without transportation.

This year, Brighter Christmas gave food and toys to 600 families, including 1,400 children age 13 or younger. Additionally, 103 seniors received food and a box of kitchenware. A special donation from Amazon.com Inc. also provided new coffee makers, tea kettles and juicers to the families.

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