In Jesse Griffin’s opinion, the holiday spirit is thriving in the town of Truckee.’I have been humbled by the generosity of this community,’ said Griffin, who organized the Senior Holiday Wish Program for Truckee Community Christmas. ‘I’ve dropped the phone a couple of times because of what people have done.’

Since the 1980s, Truckee Community Christmas (TCC) has organized the collection of donations for neighbors in need during the holiday season. This year’s efforts include a food drive, toy collection, coat drive and the senior program. Collection barrels will be brought in Friday morning from Safeway, Savemart, local real estate agencies and other locations.

TCC welcomes donations up to the final hour, and invites residents to donate their time by wrapping gifts, sorting coats and other tasks to prepare for distribution at the Sierra Mountain Community Education Center all day both Thursday, Dec. 17, and Friday, Dec. 18.

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‘Every part of this program is important,’ said Joan Hartwell, president of the board for TCC, a nonprofit organization since 1996. ‘[This year] there are more families with more needs. Families that used to help their neighbors, now they need help.’           

While TCC and its partner community organizations are aware the economy has tightened purse strings this Christmas, they remain hopeful that financial woes will not lessen the giving spirit this holiday season.

‘I took this on because it’s important, it’s a definite need our community has,’ said Alissa Just, a member of the Soroptimists, who are running the toy drive. ‘It’s definitely been slower than years past, but we’re pretty confident that Truckee will pull through. … Christmas is really a magical time for kids – to be able to give them something that they wouldn’t have (gotten any other way) is important.’           

Just said that last year, the toy drive delivered gifts to 592 children, and Hartwell said TCC has targeted 225 local families to receive wrapped toys this year. While the toy drive helps dreams come true, the other efforts deal with more basic necessities.           

‘One thing up here is that winter is tough on families, children especially. Children can’t go out at recess time unless they have snow clothes,’ Hartwell said.            

Non-perishable food items — like beans, rice, canned tomatoes and soups — can also be crucial to families in need at this time of year.           

‘I think the larders are getting pretty empty,’ Hartwell said. ‘Money that is donated goes directly to food gift cards.’    

Griffin has already fulfilled the wishes of the 55 seniors participating in her program. Seniors were asked to scale down their wishes this year in light of the economy, and requests ranged from help flipping mattresses to $25 gift cards for food to a goldfish.           

Griffin calls herself ‘Clarence’ during the time of year when she is working with the senior program, as she feels she is working towards a pair of angel wings like the character in the movie ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’            

And while the TCC hopes for more coats, food and toys to distribute this Christmas, its representatives are grateful for what the residents of Truckee already have given.           

‘Tell the community thank you from the bottom of my heart,’ Griffin said.

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