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Christmas Comes early for seniors with holiday lunch

By: Kim Palaferri Loomis News Correspondent
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The annual Senior L.I.F.E. Center’s Christmas lunch set the holiday mood in Loomis last week. Guests enjoyed a home-cooked meal and holiday songs performed by the Del Oro High School choir on Dec. 15. The Senior L.I.F.E. Center is located at the First United Methodist Church and meets weekly. Many of the guests were decked out in colorful holiday sweaters and some wore Santa hats. Attendees were in high spirits as volunteers with Soroptimist International of Loomis served a gourmet holiday feast that included ham, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole and scallop potatoes – all made from scratch – with a fancy cake to finish off the meal. The Soroptimists work hard each year to prepare the meal for the seniors. Jenny Knisley, of Loomis, led a group of about a dozen Soroptimist volunteers who served nearly 150 people. Knisely said Soroptimists helped start the Senior L.I.F.E. Center 34 years ago through their fundraising and volunteer efforts. “It’s an amazing thing to be part of – making lunch for the seniors,” Kinsley said. Acsa Hitchens and her husband, Fred, have run the senior center for seven years. The center is open year-round offering classes, lectures, and even an all day trip. According to Asca, the center puts on two holiday dinners – one for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas. “Having the Soroptimist help at our Christmas Dinner makes all the difference in the Senior L.I.F.E. Center and it just seems to get bigger and better each year with more people participating,” Hitchens said. During luncheon festivities, Emma Houx ran a resale table where donated items were sold to raise money for the center’s day trips, such as going to Music Circus, Lake Tahoe and San Francisco. Hitchens said one of the highlights of the Christmas luncheon is the Del Oro choir performance. “They sing so beautifully and it truly brings a wonderful spirit to the lunch every year,” Hitchens said. While meals were being served, the Del Oro Choir sang Christmas carols including “The Christmas Song” and “Carol of the Bells.” Lisa Sands, choir director, brought 19 singers, who sat with the seniors to enjoy a meal after the performance. It’s a tradition many of the choir members looks forward to each year. Among those in attendance was Del Oro senior Gabrielle Shannon, who was recently named to the All State Honor Choir and will head to Pasadena in the spring to take part in the performance. “We are very proud of Gabrielle, it’s a great honor to be named into the All State Honor Choir,” Sands said. Noreen Thiele who attended the luncheon wanted to know Gabriella’s plans for the future. “I am planning on attending Sierra College and then after I will study Culinary Arts at the Napoli Culinary Academy in Sacramento,” said Berumen. A few tables away, Soroptomist Marilyn Robinson and Del Oro student Sonoma Rutledge discussed Rutledge’s plans to attend Brigham Young Universtity, in Hawaii, after studying at Sierra College. Hutchins said she is already looking forward to next year’s events, including the Senior L.I.F.E. Center’s holiday luncheon.