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SUNDAY, DECEMBER 3, 0930

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Toys For Tots 2017

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Every year since we changed our holiday charitable gifting focus from Spark of Love and the fire stations to Toys for Tots and the Marines, we have increased our generosity by leaps and bounds and this year broke all records. Our members come out in ever larger numbers and the piles of donations are testament to their support of the Marines and their desire to help youngsters in need.

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This year almost 100 COTV members signed up in advance for donuts and to meet SSgts Ryan Ratigan and Jordan Hawkins and Corporal Melvin Pena who drove the truck so didn’t have to wear his dress blues. Simon and Terry Bleeker were the embodiment of the holiday spirit as they dressed as Mr. and Mrs. Claus, also forming a sleigh and horses with their white car as the sleigh and several red cars of various vintages as the reindeer. They posed for photos with the Marines, their COTV friends and even little children who thought Simon was the real thing (and we all know he is the real thing, don’t we?).  The weather, which had started out cold and foggy became nice and sunny by the time people started to arrive in larger numbers. Those of us who were there early were still wearing our jackets as we cleaned up the parking lot and set up the donut table. By 8:30 the convertible tops were down and holiday t-shirts were the order of the day.

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At 10:30, everyone helped to load the truck with the bags of goodies and Mike and Doreen Alewine’s generous annual gift of multiple bicycles. We cleaned up the donut detritus and packed up anything that needed to be packed before Rob  led the main group up to the luncheon destination in Murrieta. Curt Stevens brought up the rear, although word has it that Rob tried to lose everyone with some misdirection about potty stops and uphill climbs.

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RJ’s Sizzlin’ Steer was prepared for a huge group of about 90 for lunch (the largest group for which they had served such an extensive menu), on top of their usual Sunday brunch and Sunday football crowds. They had set up tables in the outdoor patio area and RJ himself helped Marilyn, Carol and Daryl to decorate even more than the restaurant’s already nice holiday décor.  Daryl added some little table plants and candy canes for folks to take home at the end of lunch. The menu was large and very varied so there were choices to fit all tastes and dietary needs. The service was great and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. We thank the servers for their good natured efficiency and smiling faces.

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At this rate, we are going to outgrow any possible lunch destinations for 2018. As always, we want to end this article with thanks to the Marines for coming to make this a special occasion, to RJ and the restaurant for making it fun and tasty, and to COTV folks for their generosity once again. We look forward to our last meal together for 2017 at the holiday party at Pechanga next Sunday. Our best wishes to everyone for happy holidays with family and friends and more fun together in 2018. 

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