Pack your wallet, food for holiday mixer

Loomis Basin Chamber of Commerce hopes to raise $7,000 for Christmas Basket program
By: Martha Garcia, Loomis News Editor
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Henry Schneider won’t be satisfied unless he raises $7,000 Thursday. He’ll use his emcee skills to encourage attendees at the Loomis Basin Chamber of Commerce holiday mixer to dig deep into their pockets or to pull out their checkbooks to donate to the Loomis Basin Christmas Basket program by buying raffle tickets. “Each year I’ve been trying to increase the contributions by $1,000. Our goal this year is to raise $7,000 at the event in 1-1/2 hours,” Schneider said. The mixer, which begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Blue Goose Fruit Shed, is open to the public, as well as to chamber members and guests. All proceeds will go toward the annual program that will provide a Christmas basket – actually a box – of food and toys for hundreds of families who have hit a rough patch. “This year, I’ve gone high-tech,” Schneider said. “We’ll have a slide show that shows pictures of the event, all the manpower to put all that food together and with flashy dollar signs that go off every time we reach an additional $1,000.” Those who attend Chamber mixers are often treated to free, and often lavish, spreads by businesses and organizations that host the monthly networking gatherings. Today, they’re also being asked to donate a bag of non-perishable food items and toys when they attend the mixer at the Blue Goose Fruit Shed. Sherrie Doupnik Edgar, who is again heading up the food basket program with her family, said the need appears to be greater this year. “There are more people living together, more children, which puts more bodies in each home,” she said. “We have lots of applicants, and we’re getting more every day,” with a large percentage of this year’s applicants coming are from Loomis, Edgar said. “We definitely need food donations, because the collection from the local schools was down … probably close to a third from last year,” she said. While any kind of non-perishable food items are appreciated, Edgar said donations of staples do the most good. Canned vegetables, such as green beans and corn – but not peas – are the best, she said. Boxes of instant rice and potatoes, as well Rice-A-Roni and Hamburger Helper and other boxed meals, are easy to pack. Families also appreciate canned soups, macaroni and cheese, and peanut butter and jelly. Edgar is also asking for donations of fresh fruit, especially mandarins, to add to the boxes. Jennifer Doupnik is in charge of the toy and gift drive for the 600 children in the 300 families she expects to apply for a Christmas basket. Doupnik she has already received numerous toys for younger kids, from age 2 to 6. She’s looking for baby items, everything from diapers to baby food, as well as gifts for pre-teens. Legos and art supplies are popular, Doupnik said. “Older kids get gifts, too,” she said, and she would appreciate donations of “hair straighteners and purses for girls, gift cards, anything warm like sweatshirts and gloves and beanies.” Teens are the group in the most need, she said, because there are many older foster kids in the area. Doupnik said she would also like to give books, board games and candy canes to each child. All donations must be new and unwrapped, she said. “For people who like to donate cash,” Doupnik said, “I do the shopping in age groups that need more gifts or toys.” Those who don’t make it to the Chamber mixer can take toy donations at the Loomis Fire station at Magnolia Street and Horseshoe Bar Road, or drop off toy and food donations in the barrel at Blue Goose Produce in the fruit shed. Cash donations can be mailed to LBCB, P.O. Box 687, Loomis, CA 95650. Schneider, a former Chamber of Commerce president and 22-year Loomis resident, said he got involved with the Christmas Basket program when the Chamber started donating proceeds from their December mixer to the program. “I got to be one of the volunteers on distribution day. My wife, Debbi, and I were just extremely blessed to be a able to be a part of it, to see the beneficiaries of the food and toys, to see the smiling faces on those kids when they got to pick out a toy … The next year I really pushed for more donations at the mixer,” he said. “That is what Christmas is all about.”