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Like Santa, St. Vincent de Paul also has bags of Christmas goodies

Food and toy giveaway

Hundreds of families come to St. Joseph's Catholic Church for a Christmas meal and toy distribution by the St. Vincent de Paul Ministry. Deke Farrow/jfarrow@modbee.com
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Hundreds of families come to St. Joseph's Catholic Church for a Christmas meal and toy distribution by the St. Vincent de Paul Ministry. Deke Farrow/jfarrow@modbee.com

As 9-year-old Fernandez Tucker left St. Joseph’s Catholic Church on Thursday morning, holding tight to a Lego City building set, he was in high spirits, wishing anybody and everybody in earshot a “holly jolly Christmas.”

Fernandez, who has autism spectrum disorder, said mom Carmensia Tucker, will have hours upon hours of fun with his new present – building it, taking it apart and building it again, and making countless other things with the blocks.

She called him “my little genius” and said he’s not sociable until you get an interactive toy like a Lego set in front of him.

The Tuckers were among hundreds of families who went to the Oakdale Road church Thursday for a giveaway by its St. Vincent de Paul Ministry of toys, other gifts and bagged complete Christmas meals. Ministry spokeswoman Tammy Menezes said 350 families were signed up but more like 500 families would be served by the giveaway’s end.

The weeks leading up to the distribution included community participation by the Gregori High School ag department, which collected over 1,000 cans of food, and Save Mart, Sunshine Donuts and Satellite Healthcare, which helped by either donating goods or setting up collection sites at their facilities, Menezes said.

At the event, volunteers with St. Joseph’s Hispanic Ministries served hot chocolate and pastries to those waiting. Teen volunteers also provided free gift wrapping.

Modesto resident Irene Zuniga said there’s just one income in her household, “so this helps out a lot.” She was leaving the giveaway with a food bag that will be Christmas Eve dinner, along with a gift for her 5-year-old – a toy submarine from the Disney Junior show “Octonauts.”

Deke Farrow: 209-578-2327

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