Loomis Basin Christmas Baskets volunteers, donors needed

By: Martha Garcia
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Tom Ward was well-known for his community service throughout the area.

Each year during the holidays, Ward devoted a great deal of time helping with the Loomis Basin Christmas Basket program.

Ward was “available to do everything” for the program that spreads holiday cheer to those who might otherwise go without, according to Sherrie Doupnik-Edgar, another longtime basket program volunteer. His “jobs,” Doupnik-Edgar said, included collecting donations from barrels at area businesses and picking up boxes of cans collected by students at local schools.

Boxes that carried the donations had to be broken down and that, too was another of Ward’s responsibilities.

Ward died on May 25 and his presence will especially be missed on Dec. 8.  That’s when volunteers will gather this year to fill hundreds of baskets – boxes, actually – with non-perishable items a family can use to prepare a holiday dinner and food for other seasonal meals. The food gifts, such as cereal, pasta, peanut butter, jelly, boxed meals, potatoes, rice, stuffing, gravy and canned fruits, vegetables and meats; come from food drives held by local schools, businesses including Raley’s Supermarket, community organizations and from individuals.

Turkeys, hams and other items are bought as needed, made possible through tax-deductible donations, according to Doupnik-Edgar.

Community members also donate new and unwrapped toys, board games, art supplies, craft kits, jackets, sports equipment, children’s books, personal hygiene products, sleeping bags and gift cards.

The food baskets and toys will be distributed, starting Dec. 9, to families and individuals throughout Placer County. Applications are available from various social services agencies, and at the Loomis Basin Chamber of Commerce office, 6090 Horseshoe Bar Road. There are different application deadlines and distribution sites, depending on the physical address of families.

To help others this holiday season, make a tax-deductible donation by sending checks to Loomis Basin Christmas Baskets, P.O. Box 687, Loomis, CA 95650.

Donations of non-perishable food and new and unwrapped toys are also needed. In Loomis, donations can be dropped off at the Loomis chamber office; Loomis Fire Station, 5840 Horseshoe Bar Road; Blue Goose Produce, 3550 Taylor Road; and High-Hand Nursery, 3750 Taylor Road. In Penryn, a donation barrel is at the Penryn Post Office, 2205 Rippey Road. In Rocklin, barrels are at the Granite Rock Café, 5140 Pacific St.; Venita Rhea’s Restaurant, 4415 Granite Drive; and the Rocklin Public Library, 4890 Granite Drive.

Volunteers can donate time by filling boxes from 8 a.m. to noon on Dec. 8 at First United Methodist Church, 6414 Brace Road in Loomis.

As a way of honoring Ward and his community service, volunteers filling the boxes on Dec. 8 will be treated to  “Tom Ward’s Thank You Volunteers Barbecue.”

Doupnik-Edgar said it’s something Ward had always wanted to do.

“He thought it was important to thank everybody,” she said.

Ward was born Oct. 5, 1934 in Salina, Kansas and he and his family made their way to Penryn. He was a retired 20-year veteran of the United States Marine Corps. Active with the American Legion and the First United Methodist Church of Loomis, Ward was a director of the Loomis Lions Club. According to fellow Lion Henry Schneider, Ward coordinated high school students who assisted at Lions crab feeds and collected prizes for crab feed raffles.