Oakley resident Jim Frazier was so impressed with the legendary success of the Brentwood Regional Community Chest (BRCC) Christmas Basket program that he recently approached the board for advice on creating a similar program in his town.
The BRCC was in turn so impressed with Frazier that they offered both moral support and $5,000 in seed money to help him, and his impending nonprofit group Friends of Oakley get organized. And if all goes according to plan, more families than ever throughout East County will have a merry holiday.
I was just so tickled that they (BRCC) were willing to talk to me about the program and help us find a way to make it happen, said Frazier, a founding member of the Friends. We anticipate a great need this year for families, and we are looking forward to doing all we can.
While the Friends of Oakley is still waiting for its 501c nonprofit status, Kevin Romick, who is also on the board of the Friends organization, says the group remains optimistic that it will find a way to help as many families this season as possible.
BRCC President Bill Hill is optimistic as well. The Brentwood Regional Community Chest has always looked to help all of East County, and this (Oakley effort) just seems like a natural extension, said Hill. There was some leadership in Oakley that wanted to reach out and we were happy to be there.
Established more than 30 years ago by Brentwood resident Rose Pierce, the East County Coalition, as it was then called, was a grassroots group that collected money and food and distributed it to needy families throughout the county. As it continued to evolve, the Community Chest became the official venue for the program, and today, with the help of hundreds of volunteers, the nonprofit charity provides 500 families with non-perishable food, fresh bread and vegetables, a turkey and toys for each child during the holiday season.
Lill Pierce Rose's daughter says that one of the true gifts of the Christmas Basket program is its ability to serve local families in need. The thing that is most important to me, said Pierce, is that this is something that stays in our community. You can go into a store during the holidays and see lots of barrels for lots of good causes, but this is one that stays at home.
This year's Brentwood event will take place on Dec. 20 at Brentwood Elementary School. The sorting and packing of the baskets takes place at the school the day before.
We are always looking for volunteers to help both the day before and the day of the event, said Hill. There is going to be plenty of need this year. Everyone that wants to help is welcome.
For volunteer information or other ways to help, call 925-634-3216.