The scene last Saturday morning at the Mariposa County Fairgrounds said a lot about this area.
On the one hand, it illustrated how caring the people of Mariposa County are — any time of the year.
On the other hand, it showed the great need in this County to help those who are less fortunate.
The setting was the annual Kops for Kids event where local families are given toys, clothes and other items for Christmas.
It was also piggybacked by a giveaway of 200 meals by Manna House to make sure families had food for Christmas. (See related story about Manna House on page 1.)
“Everybody chipped in,” said Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Will Atkinson, the organizer of the event which is sponsored by the Mariposa County Deputy Sheriff’s Association.
Though Atkinson is the point person for Kops for Kids, there are so many others involved.
There were many volunteers at the fairgrounds, some helping haul boxes of food inside of Building A, others getting their lists and checking them twice to make sure all of the children would have a good Christmas. Atkinson said none of it would be possible without the help of those volunteers.
All of this in spite of, or maybe because of, the Detwiler Fire, which devastated Mariposa County earlier this year. The fire torched 83,000 acres and to this day is a disruption to the daily routines of many local residents.
“I think the people are more giving because of the fire,” said Atkinson.
In fact, Atkinson said he was aware of three families who were victims of the fire that were participating in the Kops for Kids program so their families could have a joyful Christmas.
Atkinson said this event was the largest in the history of Kops for Kids in Mariposa County. He said $20,000 was raised for the program, including $3,000 in fundraisers at various locations in the community.
The rest came from donations from local businesses and individuals.
For Atkinson, the program means a lot because of the outpouring of Mariposa County residents.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to give back to this community,” said Atkin son of the program. He was “born and raised” in Mariposa County and said it means a lot to be able to put a smile on the face of a child during the holiday season. It also means a lot to see parents smile because they know their children are going to have a good Christmas.
For the many people who stood in line on a chilly Saturday morning at the fairgrounds to make sure their families had food and gifts for the children, they are almost certainly honored and privileged to have Atkinson leading the charge each Christmas season.
Greg Little is Editor of the Mariposa Gazette and can be reached at email@example.com.