With Christmas just a week away:
IN THE SPIRIT -- Trenton Rocha-Kuehl wants to make sure some less fortunate people have a merry Christmas and stay warm this winter.
The 12-year-old from Turlock collects coats for the needy. Last year, he gathered 50. This year, he set a goal of 100 coats, enlisting the help of officials and other students at Turlock's Mountain View Middle School, where he is a sixth-grader. He reached that goal over the weekend and will deliver the coats to a collection point at Vintage Faire Mall on Wednesday.
One couple, with no children of their own, went out and bought new coats to donate to his cause.
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Trenton also has saved his money to donate to Toys For Tots and canned food drives, and wants to collect blankets to donate to a women's shelter, as well.
And at 12, he doesn't do it for the tax deduction.
WII PALS -- And in Manteca, 9-year-old Brandyn Waterford will make some other kids' Christmas special by donating two Nintendo Wiis to the Agape Villages Foster Family Agency gift drive sponsored by his father, Manteca Ford owner Phil Waterford. Brandyn is a fourth-grader at Mary Lou Dieterich School in Modesto. He received one Wii as a birthday present. The Maloof brothers, who own the Sacramento Kings, got word of his generosity and invited him to a game. They gave him another Wii, and Brandyn announced that he would donate that one to the charity, as well. That compelled a Wells Fargo bank executive to give him $500 in gift cards, which Brandyn also has donated to the charity.
"It was a shock to us," said Phil Waterford, who made it clear that if Brandyn gave the first one away, his parents wouldn't be buying him another. Brandyn was fine with that. Then he got the second Wii at the Kings game and decided to give it away, too.
"He said, 'Now we get to make another kid's Christmas really special,' " dad Phil said. "It's a wonderful message he sent and I'm really proud of him."
INSIDER TRADING -- Note to Dan Costa's wife: Does Dan talk in his sleep? If so, please record his mumblings. Who among us wouldn't want to know what his next business venture might be? The man has the Midas touch, building small businesses into big moneymakers, then selling them for millions and millions of dollars. A small cassette tape would make a great stocking stuffer.
SLENDER SANTA -- While I was in a local retail store Saturday, Santa walked by. This one stood about 6-foot-2 and couldn't have weighed more than about 140 pounds. No pillow for padding, nothing. I supposed it's better for getting down the chimneys.
The moment begged for a commercial -- or a "Saturday Night Live" skit -- with Santa holding out the black belt of his clearly oversized red pants and blurting out:
"Ho! Ho! Ho! I lost 200 pounds in just three months on NutriSystem!"
MUTANT REINDEER? -- My Nov. 13 column led with an item about a couple of Watusi steers, with their massive horns, east of Modesto along Claribel Road at Bentley.
Equally strange-looking is a steer -- probably a Texas Longhorn -- just north of the auction yard along Albers Road.
The left horn is normal, curving upward. The right horn curves downward.
It looks like the reindeer in "How The Grinch Stole Christmas."
Jeff Jardine's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in Local News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2383.