Volunteers deliver Christmastime cheer

By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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Eight-year-old Dominic Bonacorso is looking forward to the 25th. The smile on his face says it all. “I like toys at Christmas,” he said. Dominic’s parents want his Yule time wish to come true, but like so many Rocklin families this year there is a nasty Grinch called the recession. Joe Bonacorso was laid off and his wife Jennifer’s job is now their only source of income for a family six. “I’m extremely blessed to have these kids,” Jennifer said. She just ended her maternity leave with their son Giovanni, now 3 months old. With money tight, the couple decided to avoid presents for each other and instead focus on their four small children. Last Wednesday, they got some help from a local Santa figure, John Carter from the South Placer Rotary Club, bearing gifts for all. “When I showed up, she opened the door and put her arms around me and then, just tears,” Carter said. “She said, ‘you made our Christmas.’” Carter is one of the countless volunteers from the Rotary club who have joined forces with the Rocklin Fire Department and the Rocklin Unified School District to sponsor 27 families and put together 150 Christmas baskets. It is the fifth year the volunteers have collected toys, winter coats, food and gift cards for needy families. They even deliver the gift baskets just in time for Christmas. The Bonacorsos said they were surprised with the generosity. ”We have friends who know our situation,” Jennifer said. “I didn’t ask who turned our name in.” To accept the help was hard for the proud couple who said they felt embarrassed that they could not do everything for their children. “At first, it is extremely difficult to accept the help,” Jennifer said. “Once you get past the pride, it is phenomenal. I am extremely thankful that there is a group like this.” Dominic, 8, his brother Nikko, 5, and their sister Gianna, 3, quickly grabbed a teddy bear off of the top of their gift baskets and hugged them tight. “This is my bear,” Dominic said. “I think I’ll name him ‘Furry.’” Dominic said for the first time he’ll have his own bear to sleep with. His parents quickly moved to conceal the rest of Rotary’s offerings until Christmas. “We didn’t let them look in the bags,” Joe said. “We’re going to put them somewhere so they can’t get to them.” But the kids are listening. “It is going to be in the closet,” Nikko said. “We can open it, but only if Mommy is away.” Nikko’s honesty amused them. To the Bonacorsos, the challenge of keeping their children’s new presents a secret is a welcomed change from the daily worry about the status of their mortgage modification or Joe’s job prospects. “You have to wait for Christmas, Nikko,” Joe said. Older brother Dominic, however, is determined to wait until Christmas and explains why. “If it’s Christmas Day we can open it,” Dominic said. ”I like Christmas and listening for Santa. I’m going to give him cookies and milk and carrots to his reindeer.” For Carter, his experience with the family has brought him a little Christmas spirit and will draw him to volunteer next year. “I know what it is like not having,” Carter said. “It is the giving that makes us all feel so good. That’s what I enjoy the most.”