Christmas Basket program helps needy

Packing up holiday good will
By: Martha Garcia, Loomis News Editor
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Good will overflowed at the Doupnik Manufacturing warehouse Saturday morning. Nearly 300 volunteers filled the Rippey Road building to sort and fill boxes with a holiday meal for families in need who had applied for help through the Loomis Basin Christmas Basket program. The “baskets” were distributed at the Doupnik warehouse on Sunday. Outside on Saturday, the temperature was in the mid-40s, but inside the warehouse it was warm and comfortable as volunteers worked shoulder to shoulder. The fist task was to organize tons of canned food and other non-perishables, most of which had been donated by the community. The sorting, then filling of the boxes, was under the watchful eye of Doupnik family members and their team of returning volunteers. “The food will go into 300 individual boxes,” explained J.T. Doupnik, “with a Christmas meal, added food and a second box for large families.” In past years, he said, the boxes contained 55 to 65 pounds of food each. Included in each family’s basket was a ham for the holiday meal. J.T.’s son, Travis, has been helping with the Christmas Basket program for eight years. This year the Del Oro student organized the can collection at Loomis elementary schools and Del Oro and Rocklin high schools as his senior project. He said the collection effort at schools was very successful. “Loomis Grammar School brought in more than any other elementary school and there were 7,500 cans from Del Oro,” J.T. said. He was also pleased to see the large turnout on Saturday. “It makes me feel good to have so many people from the community come out,” he said. The leadership group from Del Oro included Alexis Costa, who said the canned food drive is one of their biggest school-wide projects. Their advisor, Terry Barker, said the U.S. History class of teacher Mike Maben had donated 2,000 cans. Tom Ward, a Loomis Lions Club and American Legion member, was one of the many volunteers working hard on Saturday. Showing up to help is “necessary,” he said, “because we have to take care of people who don’t have enough, especially at Christmas.” Caden Gallagher, 9, said he and his friends, Kaylan Billings, also 9, and Kaylan’s mother, Nancy Billings, volunteer every year. “We sort cans for the homeless, so more people can have food over the holidays,” Caden said. Kaylan said she volunteers because, “My mom wants for me and her to give back to the community.” After volunteers filled the food boxes and the tables wear clear, it was time to bring out the toys, which had to be separated by age groups. Jennifer Doupnik, the toy chairman, said almost 600 children, ages 0 to 17, were provided toys. Donations of toys had been low, and Doupnik had started to worry. “But the last week,” she said, “the community came through and we got quite a few dropped off at the office and at the fire station, so we ended up having more than enough toys for the 600 kids.” Cash donations, Doupnik said, allowed her to shop for toys for age groups that were lacking toys. Sunday’s toy handout also went smoothly, she said. “I have great volunteers who volunteered several years in a row. They escorted about 300 families who got to select for their children. They got to pick a toy and a stuffed animal and each family gets a board game or puzzle.” Doupnik said every child gets a book, too. ”That’s just the teacher in me,” said the reading specialist at St. Alban’s School in Roseville.