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CFE In the News

Source: Clayton Pioneer • www.claytonpioneer.com
Date: October 28, 2011
Credit: Peggy Spear

Local 'elf ' helps out Christmas for Everyone

Clayton Pioneer Christmas For Everyone photo
Christmas for Everyone volunteers cook a traditional Christmas dinner for more than 3,000 who would otherwise go without. Those in need also receive clothing and gifts. Donations of gently used items and money are needed to continue the program this year.

Howard Geller isn't asking a lot – just that everyone who wants to in Contra Costa County can have a Merry Christmas. To that end, the realtor and Clayton vice mayor is spearheading local efforts for the nonprofit Christmas for Everyone program, an organization that throws a fantastic Christmas Day party for needy families in the county. "Christmas is a time when we all have to be thankful for what we have and aware of the people in our community that are not as fortunate," Geller says. "Once I saw the magnitude of what Christmas for Everyone does for so many unfortunate people that live in Contra Costa County, I wanted to help collect clothing and funds." So Geller set about using his numerous contacts in the community to collect gently used clothing, and set up donation stations. His fiancée, Debbie Mullins, also pulled out her rolodex and started asking around, and in the four years that Geller has been playing Santa's elf, he has seen a steady increase in donations. Still, the rocky economy has caused many corporate donors to pull back their efforts, or even stop supporting the program altogether. "I am really hoping that Clayton can make a big difference," Geller says. Geller, who is also active in the Clayton Business and Community Association, is hoping local merchants will also get behind the project, and offer up their shops as donation stations. Last year, Geller himself delivered four truckloads of goods as well as more than $4,000 from the CBCA and other friends. Since 1985, CFE has been helping the working poor in Contra Costa County, partnering with other local charitable organizations to create a memorable holiday for the poor and shut-ins, who would not have much of a Christmas without it. The all-volunteer organization provides free transportation to and from the host church, which this year is Concord's New Hope Church. Once there, everyone receives a new gift and almost new clothing. A traditional Christmas dinner is served, and there is musical entertainment, games, face-painting, and even professional haircuts. If someone is homebound, volunteers will deliver dinner and gifts to them. Last year, the organization served more than 3,000 Christmas dinners.

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