Businesses play Santa for community

By: Jenifer Gee, Gold Country News Service
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You’ll be hard-pressed to find a scrooge-like business in the county this holiday season. Many local companies are taking part in holiday giving programs that benefit the less fortunate in the area. When asked who’s taking part in the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree donation program, Michelle Fish, social service director for the Salvation Army in Auburn, rattled off the names of several businesses, organizations and county and city departments. With an estimated 800 angels to grant holiday wishes too Fish said support from local entities is critical. “We could not do it without these businesses by all means,” Fish said. Among those helping include TASQ Technology Inc., which has more than 400 employees at its Roseville and Rocklin locations. This year, the company will take on about 350 angels. “Our employees ask for it every year,” said Debbie Lafleur, administrative assistant to the vice president. “They’re already asking, ‘When’s the tree coming and where are the food bins?’” TASQ Technology isn’t the only company excited to fill bins. Donna Hewell, a custom home sales consultant with G.J. Gardner Homes, said the Auburn business and its employees are ready to fill up their Toys for Tots bin. Hewell said last year the company had to have a full bin emptied before Christmas so they could continue to take in new toy donations. “We have children and grandchildren and it’s something we really like to do to give back to the community,” Hewell said. “We want to participate in the community and let people know we do care and we’re available to help whenever we can.” Hewell added that it’s fun for employees to watch other merchants in the Skyridge Courtyard Center on Auburn Folsom Road stop by and drop off toys. “It brought a lot of Christmas cheer to us in the Skyridge Center,” Hewell said. Those in the education community are also looking to lend a helping hand. The Placer County Office of Education has selected three local charities to contribute toward including the Auburn Interfaith Food Closet, The Salvation Army’s gifts for children and The Gathering Inn based in South Placer County. Donation bins and Snowman Angel Walls are set up at several county office sites including the main office in Auburn. “Even in these tough economic times, especially for education in the state of California in a financial crises, we still want to support those who are less fortunate,” said James Anderberg, executive director of administrative services for the county office. “We have some really kind-hearted staff members who want to help.” Auburn business owner Victor Macy of Macy Transportation said that helping others this time of year lifts his spirits as well. Macy, who is the chairman of the Auburn Area Christmas Basket program, has been involved with the non-profit venture for more than 15 years. The program serves more than 500 families in just the Auburn area. One day a year, more than 150 volunteers mobilize and hand out two week’s worth of food plus a Christmas dinner to families and have toys, including new bikes, for children 12 and younger. Macy said volunteers distribute all of the goods in about four hours. He said after working all year gathering donations, he likes to sit back and watch as one amazed family after another is surprised by just how plentiful their Christmas basket is. “People almost collapse when they see what they’re getting,” Macy said. “They come in expecting to get a little basket of food and — if it’s a family with kids — walk out with four boxes of food.” Macy added that he gets the “tingles” just seeing how much the Auburn community helps one another and how much it means to families. “You see little kids who can’t stop smiling and you see some parents crying because of what we’ve done to help out there families,” Macy said. “That’s what drives me to do it the other 364 days a year.” Find Auburn Angels Several local businesses are participating in the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program. Visit the following locations to pick an “angel,” who is a child or senior in need, and buy them a gift: • Placer County Office of Education, 360 Nevada St., Auburn • Bank of America, 900 High St. and 2885 Bell Road, Auburn • Wells Fargo Bank, 949 Lincoln Way, 338 Elm Ave., and 2995 Grass Valley Highway, Auburn • Auburn Police Department, 1215 Lincoln Way, Auburn • Auburn City Hall, 1225 Lincoln Way, Auburn