FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
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Fairfield fire Capt. Matt Luckenbach, left, hands out plastic fire hats to Keonta Latson, center, and other children at The Leaven Christmas party at the Grande Circle location Friday. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)

Fairfield

The Leaven brings an early Christmas to local sites

By From page A3 | December 15, 2012

FAIRFIELD — More than 75 children celebrated Christmas early as The Leaven hosted parties at three sites Friday afternoon.

Leaven director Mark Lillis greeted the children at each location. He was accompanied by City Manager Sean Quinn, Fire Chief Vince Webster, police officers and firefighters.

At Grande Circle, about 25 children packed into a room and feasted on pizza, treats and drinks. The center opened last year and become a real part of the neighborhood, Lillis said.

Fairfield fire Capt. Matt Luckenbach passed out goodies.

“Who likes stickers?” he asked as the children gathered around him. One young girl told him she had gotten a fire department sticker in first grade.

“I’ve handed out a lot of these,” he told her.

Paulina Abacara, 11, likes the center because it gives her a chance to hang out with friends. She also gets help with her homework.

McKyla Woods  studied up on fire safety and shared what she knew, warning her peers not to play with anything hot.

“I think you are a future junior fire marshal,” Webster told her.

At the Phoenix Drive site, Mike Tadlock, church and community coordinator for The Leaven, had a little fun when he told the youth the firefighters and policemen had come to wish them Merry Christmas.

“That’s never happened to me in my life,” he said smiling.

The group of about 25 youngsters were reminded to stop, drop and roll if their clothes catch fire and to call 911 in an emergency.

“And when you see a police car drive by, make sure you wave,” Sgt. Dan Marshall told the children.

He also praised them for utilizing The Leaven services.

“This is good decision making,” Marshall said.

The air was also full of laughter and joy at The Groves Leaven site as the children had picked out presents for their parents, with the assistance of Wednesday Club members. The club donated the gifts and helped the children wrap them.

Site director Kara Lugo twirled her ponytails and sang “Here Comes Santa Claus.” The children were also visited by police and firefighters.

Children also got  some early Christmas presents as members of the 573rd GSS squadron at Travis Air Force Base sponsored them.

Master Sgt. Contina Harmon took on the task and started by gathering the names, then sending emails to her fellow squadron members to sponsor a child.

“I wanted to give back,” she gave as her reason for taking on the task. Harmon has served at Travis one year and has 18 years in the Air Force.

As things quieted down, Amy Echererria, 9, shared her Christmas wish.

“I want some toys,” she said. “Dolls would be nice, particularly a Princess Belle one.”

The Leaven works with children and families living in low-income urban areas offering everything from after-school tutoring to neighborhood revitalization.

The newest center is located in Suisun City inside The Villages apartment complex.

Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey joined the staff of the Daily Republic in 1980. She’ll tell you she was only 3 at the time. Over the past three decades she’s done a variety of jobs in the newsroom. Today, she covers arts and entertainment and writes for the Living and news pages.
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