Community helping community

On Saturday, Dec. 21, Colton Aid Network and its volunteers put together boxes of food and bags filled with gifts for 36 families in the Colton School District, 155 people including 70 children. by: CINDY FAMA - The volunteers of Colton Aid Network who sorted packed food and gifts for 155 fellow community members who need a little help stretching their budgets during the holidays.

“We couldn’t do it without the community’s help,” CAN president Geri Fraijo said. “Everyone has a part in this from the schools, volunteers at the fire department, people who give food and monetary donations to this group of great volunteers.”

And there are stories to tell of how families who need a bit of help were touched by the generosity of so many. On Friday night,” Fraijo called the families to remind them they can come pick up their holiday boxes on Saturday morning.

“One young lady told me she hadn’t submitted her name and wasn’t sure if she should take it, Fraijo said. “I told her someone in her family, or a friend, must think she might just need a little help, and it would be here if she wanted it or could use it. I could hear a catch in her throat. I told her there were presents for her children, and then I could hear the tears start. She said, ‘Oh thank you so much, yes, yes we can use it this year. Thank you, thank you.’ It was really hard to keep from choking up while I was on the phone with her.”

As the volunteers were loading cars, a family who had always been a part of every community charity was there because medical bills had taken up this year’s budget. Then, quietly, as the last of the boxes were disappearing either delivered to homes or through pick-ups, a young mother pulled up and got out of her car. She did not look up and with respect just a few volunteers helped put the food in the trunk, as she wiped away a few tears.

When Fraijo handed her two toys for her young daughters, the tears fell on the driveway as rain falls. She looked at Fraijo, smiled and said, “Merry Christmas. Ours will be so nice because of all of you. Merry Christmas.”

How it happens

In December, Colton Elementary School had a non-perishable food drive and the holiday food boxes held soups, canned vegetables and fruits, cereals, pastas, packaged meals and more for the cupboards for the upcoming weeks. Community members took ‘Gift of Giving’ cards for the children and bought presents. R&R Tree Farm sold Christmas trees and donated all the proceeds. The Colton Christmas 2013 CD (on sale at Colton Café, Colton Fire and Coltontel) had its most successful first week to date bringing in $600, all of which went to CAN, and there also were monetary contributions made.

According to Kelly Stephens, CAN treasurer, the charity took in $2,900. With that money, they purchased for each family a nice ham, potatoes, fruit and vegetables, rolls, milk, butter, eggs, a cookie package and more.

Harvest Market in Estacada worked with them on prices and donated at both Christmas and Thanksgiving, Stephens said.

Milk Creek Produce was the source for fresh produce, Columbia Bank in Molalla helped with gifts, Coltontel promoted and participated in the charity drive. CAN board member Michele Chapman said there was enough money left to purchase some much-needed winter clothing for a few of the children.

Colton Volunteer Fire Department helps CAN

Thursday, Dec. 19, the volunteers of Colton Fire took to the emergency apparatus and ventured out onto the paved and unpaved roads of Colton to go door to door collecting food for the upcoming Holiday baskets.

All around town as people heard the lights and sirens, they were waiting for the knock on the door by a volunteer firefighter, ready with bags and boxes of food for the charity. Cars and trucks slowed down and handed cash donations to the firefighters.

“It went well, more than well. Almost all the volunteers were here for this,” volunteer David Fraijo said. “We collected lots of food and $313.”

There was also a bit more than money and food for one volunteer to find.

“When one of our volunteer firefighters was approaching a door,” Fraijo said, amidst chuckles from the crew. “When he heard what he thought was someone coming with food—there was what he described as a giant raccoon charging him and chasing him back down the driveway.”

Colton Fire made sure there were rigs on standby in case of an emergency and all apparatus and firefighters were in full gear in case of a call-out during the charitable endeavor.

Many of the volunteers were there on Saturday to help pack and deliver boxes and toys.

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