El Cajon, CA
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Articles by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

It’s been said, “The light in a child’s eyes is all it takes to make Christmas a magical time of the year.” Such was the case for the 73 kids attending the Christmas Party for the Homeless on Dec. 17 at the East County Living Transitional Center in El Cajon.

Volunteers at food events can be tempted to eat the offerings. “I really want a cookie,” said volunteer Zoe Brandt at the Celebrate the Holidays! Cookie Decorating for Kids! event held Dec. 10 at the El Cajon Library.  Brandt resisted and continued to set out sugar cookies and frosting for the kids to decorate Christmas trees, stars and bells.

The Santee Community Chorus (billed as the Santee Community Chorus Holiday Concert) performed after the cookie decorating.

Short sleeved T-shirt-wearing volunteers working the snow sledding ride helped the estimated 6,000 attendees enjoy the snow, known as Snow Hill, at the 16th annual Santa at the Lakes holiday event Dec.11 at Santee Lakes in Santee.

How do you prepare your dog for a run/walk? Jessica Sanchez said “Sleep and poop before the race.” Practical words for any pet owner participating in the 6th Annual Jingle Paws Walk For Pets 2016 held at Cuyamaca College’s Water Conservation Park on Dec. 3. Sanchez’s lab, Cali, not only did the run/walk but managed to pull off best pet costume as well with her husband Joe parading Cali as Mrs. Santa Claus, before the judges. Holiday inspired costumes were encouraged for pets and owners.

“It tastes better because it was a blessing” said Kenya Henry who along with 24 other families received a Thanksgiving basket of food the weekend before Thanksgiving from a coordinated effort of Mandate Project Impact, Open Heart Ministries and Momma B’s Outreach. The event was titled “Thanksgiving and a Song” and was held at Spring Valley’s Liberty Temple Full Gospel Church.

Bullying—the topic is ripe with meaning nowadays on school grounds and many other settings. Grossmont College’s Fall Traveling Troupe 2016 is addressing that topic with their production of the 6-scene play “Blue” about bullying. They performed this production for Lakeside’s Lindo Park Elementary School on Nov. 17.

Finding a milestone birthday card for a 100th birthday is hard. El Cajon resident Renato “Ray” Garcia’s family friend, Monica Schwarz, found one for this centenarian at Grossmont Center.

Garcia celebrated his birthday and two days before his 100th birthday celebrated his 65th wedding anniversary to his wife, Edda, on Nov. 12 at a party held at La Mesa’s Foothills Methodist Church. Mr. Garcia joked, “I feel really old.”

The nation’s second memory care facility for adults with developmental disabilities diagnosed with aging issues such as Alzheimer’s was recently completed in Spring Valley. Noah Homes is to be credited for recognizing the need and completing the project. They held a ribbon cutting and ceremony to celebrate this momentous event on Nov. 3.

Let the strawberry milk, coffee, donuts, and powdered sugar lips prevail. The grand opening of Mary’s Donuts in Lakeside was held Oct. 29 with owner Joel Scalzitti presiding over the festive event.

Valhalla High School’s Principal Mary Beth Kastan had this to say about the school, “We are a school of superlatives.” And that they are—even more so with the modernization of its main building and theater. A re-dedication and open house was held on Oct.11 with a ribbon cutting, speeches, and tours of the Rancho San Diego school.