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Longstanding group passes out free Christmas meals to hundreds

Helena Helmold (right) accepts a $2,600 donatoin from Tim Carnahan of the Rotary Club of West Sacramento. The donation helped provide holiday meals for those in need. (Photo by David Kamminga/Rotary)

Helena Helmold (right) accepts a $2,600 donatoin from Tim Carnahan of the Rotary Club of West Sacramento. The donation helped provide holiday meals for those in need. (Photo by David Kamminga/Rotary)

NEWS-LEDGER — JAN 1, 2014 —

From the Rotary Club of West Sacramento

For decades, a volunteer organization called the West Sacramento Christmas Basket Project has provided fixings for a Christmas meal to locals who need that kind of help.

The tradition continued this Dec. 21-22, when the group passed out canned goods; pastas; vegetables; fruit; soup; potatoes; bread; rice or beans plus a voucher for a free chicken or turkey.

Long-time organizer Helena Helmold started with the project at least 35 years ago. She said that cash donations, such as this year’s $2,600 check from The Rotary Club of West Sacramento, are a big part of making the project a success. Rotary’s donation paid for the vouchers families have been exchanging for their Christmas turkey or a chicken.

The Christmas Basket Project also distributed free toys this year.

The Yolo Food Bank this year contributed baskets to the Christmas Food Basket and also to Holy Cross and New Discovery Churches, Helmold said. She describes the well-intentioned help as “an experiment” that led to confusion for volunteers at the three sites due to “triple-dipping” by some recipients. “It meant a lot more work for us (to try to match a person waiting for a box to names of those who’d pre-registered),” she said.

Next year, Helmold said, the West Sacramento Christmas Food Basket project will go back to partnering with only Holy Cross.

This has been a tough year personally for Helmold, who is 78. Her youngest, a son, age 37, had a seizure and died eight months ago. She also lost her home of 25 years to foreclosure. The home was paid in full but not insured, she said, because her two Chow dogs – a ‘high risk breed’ – made the house uninsurable. A fire in 2006 caused by a problem with her stove meant she had to get a loan to repair the damage. Ultimately, she lost the house. But, she said, her current housing, a small temporary apartment in Bryte, “let me bring my cats.” Some days, she admits, it’s tempting to move cats and self to Honolulu for the balmy weather and to be near her grandchildren.

Work helps keep her here. This year, for example, 450 families received ingredients for their Christmas meal from the West Sacramento Christmas Basket Project.

The Food Bank of Yolo County also took 250 baskets each to Holy Cross and New Discovery, Helmold said. Helmold’s volunteers delivered boxes and vouchers to elderly and disabled residents in West Sacramento and Clarksburg, as well as to residents in local low-income housing.

Helmold expressed her gratitude to the West Sacramento Rotary Club:

“I can’t begin to tell you enough about those guys. These guys have been our life saver, they really have.”

Local businessman Frank Ramos (whose son, Dan, belongs to The Rotary Club of West Sacramento), stepped up on Dec. 20 to provide a last-minute warehouse from which the group could distribute the food boxes.

Rotary’s goal this year was to match last year’s $2,200 donation to the effort, an all time high, said Rotarian and volunteer club photographer David Kamminga. Club members exceeded that target this year by $400.

Tim Carnahan, Rotary’s 2013 Christmas Basket Project chairman, said, “No one is quite sure how long we’ve been (contributing to the West Sacramento Christmas Basket Project), but when I joined 20 years ago it was already a long-standing project for our club.”

Back then, he said, “We used to ask our members to just bring one or two cans of food to each meeting for four straight weeks leading up to Christmas. Over time it became clear that our random food purchases were hard to coordinate into the food baskets and so we began collecting cash instead. For many years (Rotarian) Dick Uno headed up this project and he still helps collect the dough when we pass the hat.”

  For more information about the West Sacramento Christmas Food Basket project, contact Helena Helmold on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/jXHaK or call (916) 804-3168. For more information about The Rotary Club of West Sacramento, e-mail Rotarian Tim Carnahan at tlcarna@pacbell.net or call (916) 997-9180.

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Some West Sac neighborhoods take Christmas decorations seriously

TIM MUSIAL’S home on Fernwood Circle was blazing with colored lights for the Christmas season. So were the houses of his neighbors on this enthusiastic cul-de-sac, as well as many other homes in the neighborhoods of Bryte, Broderick, Southport and ‘Old West Sacramento.’ (News-Ledger photo)

TIM MUSIAL’S home on Fernwood Circle was blazing with colored lights for the Christmas season. So were the houses of his neighbors on this enthusiastic cul-de-sac, as well as many other homes in the neighborhoods of Bryte, Broderick, Southport and ‘Old West Sacramento.’
(News-Ledger photo)

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — JAN 1, 2014 —

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

The holiday season can be a “showy” time of year in many West Sacramento neighborhoods.

The Fernwood Circle cul-de-sac in the central part of the city, not far from Park Boulevard, offers one such example. Neighbors there join together to offer a visual feast of Christmas lights for visitors.

“Every year, we’ll close the court off to vehicle traffic and we have Santa,” reports Tim Musial of Fernwood Circle. “People can come by and take pictures with Santa.”
The neighbors did just that on December 14.

Musial said the handful of homes in his court started their tradition of enthusiastically decorating for the holidays over a decade ago.

“Loren Alexander is the one who started it, about 11 years ago,” Musial told the News-Ledger. “I moved in about five years ago and just joined in.”

 

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Recycling a Christmas tree: three choices

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER OF WEST SACRAMENTO —

There are three ways for West Sacramento residents to recycle their used, formerly-live Christmas trees. Choose from among the following options after removing all decorations from the tree:

First, you may cut it into small enough (less than three-foot) sections and fit the pieces into your yard waste cart or bundled next to it, for pickup on your regular service day.

Secondly, you may take the tree to Whitey’s Jolly Kone between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Sat., Jan. 4. If you make a donation at the dropoff, it will benefit Cub Scout Pack 49. Whitey’s is located at 1300 Jefferson Boulevard.

Third, you may recycle your Christmas tree (limit two per person) to the Yolo County Landfill between Woodland and Davis. The landfill will also recycle your old electronics, such as computers, TVs and monitors now made obsolete by your new holiday gifts.   For more information, call (530) 666-8729 or visit www.yolocounty.org.

Copyright News-Ledger 2013

Andrei Nevrov graduates from US Air Force basic training

Airman Andrei Nevrov, a graduate of River City High School in West Sacramento

Airman Andrei Nevrov, a graduate of River City High School in West Sacramento

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — DEC 18, 2013 —

Air Force Reserve Airman 1st Class Andrei Nevrov graduated from basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, San Antonio, Texas.

The airman completed an intensive, eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness, and basic warfare principles and skills.

Nevrov is the son of Viatcheslav Nevrov of Carmichael.

He is a 1996 graduate of River City High School in West Sacramento. He earned an associate degree in 2008 from American River College.

Copyright News-Ledger 2013