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Business Owner Pioneers “Holiday Cheer” Event
“Holiday Cheer” event organizer, Corey Williams, left, with son Ryder, fiancé Laura Harris and her daughter Brooklyne Hemm gather at Fit Republic Oakdale to collect donations. Teresa Hammond/The Leader

Corey Williams thought his idea was simple.

As a longtime volunteer of Modesto Gospel Mission, Oakdale community member and owner of Cordial Landscape, he quite simply wanted to give back to a community which had given him so much.

“I just wanted to do something. I wanted to give back more to my community,” the landscaper said of his initial contact with Oakdale City Council member and local volunteer Cher Bairos.

Williams noted he contacted Bairos in January of this year sharing his mission to give with her.

“Cher has been a client for several years,” he said, adding that throughout the year the two remained in contact, with Bairos giving guidance as well as offering support though connections she has fostered.

“Honestly going into this event, I thought narrow mindedly,” he shared. “I thought I would do a canned food drive and just solicit my clients and my family. So it sort of started on a smaller portion in my mind.”

Yet that quickly changed. The now once envisioned canned food drive has morphed into supplying holiday dinners for 20 families in the Oakdale community, as well as non-perishable food items and gifts for children within the chosen families.

Now known as the “Holiday Cheer” event with the help of both Raley’s and Save Mart, 20 complete dinners have been donated. In addition drop off donation boxes have been placed at Fit Republic, Cocina Michocana, Oakdale Locksmith, Oakdale Cowboy Museum, Plaza 131, Starbucks (west location), Steves Chevrolet, The Corral Sandwich Shop, Fred’s Firearms and Fitness Plus.

“We’re going to combine everything and show some holiday cheer to members of the community,” Williams said of the meals, as well as donation items left at the business locations.

Deliveries are to be made on Dec. 24 by a small group of volunteers.

The organizer shared they are still in need of non-perishable pantry items, as well as age appropriate wrapped gifts marked with gender and age.

Currently with the help of Oakdale Rescue Mission and several local churches they have secured the names of 12 of the 20 families.

The self-described ‘Oakdale boy’ shared he felt with the financial hardship many are facing for the first time this year, he felt now more than ever there is a need to give.

“I’m a first time father this year, so it’s something I wanted to do, to pay it forward,” he said. “This is where my home is.”

Williams added a desire to give back years ago but did not have financial means. Asking himself what he could give and recognizing he could give his time, which led him to the Gospel Mission.

Now he shared a new family, a life of love and a deep sense of gratitude has prompted his efforts to stay local.

“I’ve been shown a lot of love the past couple years with this family,” he said of his fiancé, her daughter and their son Ryder. “It’s been a whole new life for me. I’ve been by myself for a while. It’s blessed my character, I guess.”

The organizer shared they could also use a few volunteers to aid with assembly prior to delivery day, as well as gift cards if community members would prefer to donate those. Gift card donations, however, should go directly do Williams or Bairos.

“It’s been wonderful,” the business owner said. “A lot of businesses have donated. Majority of the drop off locations have donated in one way in another.”

Donations are being accepted through Dec. 17. Community members interested in helping or donating gift cards may contact Williams at 818-6507; Bairos at 496-1134 or Laura Harris at 338-4623.