MERCED — On the heels of a tragic month, Christmas prospects for 6-year-old Jocelyn Chavez got a little brighter on Monday, thanks to Merced police officers and their families.
On Dec. 3, Jocelyn lost one of her best friends, 5-year-old Geraldine Perez, who died in a fire that also claimed the lives of Geraldines father and her uncle. Jocelyns family lived next door and lost their home in the blaze.
Her family has since moved to an apartment and they have been slowly piecing their lives back together with a lot of help from friends and family and the Merced Police Officers Association.
On Monday, officers and their families brought the Chavez family a full turkey dinner for Christmas, as well as stuffed toys and other presents for the holidays.
Its been very nice, Jocelyns mother, Rosalinda Villanueva, said Monday.
Last week, Jocelyn participated in the Police Departments Shop with a Cop Christmas program. The officers helped Jocelyn replace some of the clothes she lost in the house fire.
But the officers did not stop with Jocelyns family on Monday. The Villanuevas were just one of 10 families that received Christmas meals.
In the past we were able to help families on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but this year, with limited resources, we were only able to help at Christmas, Detective Raquel Rios said.
Donations were down this year, Rios said, at least in part because of a struggling economy.
Officers and their children loaded the departments SWAT team vehicle full of turkey dinners and Christmas presents and rumbled down the streets of Merced passing out meals and holiday cheer.
Its fun to give back, and I like thinking that we get to help families by at least helping them have a Christmas dinner, explained 16-year-old Hunter Fink. Some of these unfortunate families like (the Villanueva family) have lost everything, and at least now they have a dinner.
Hunter and 14-year-old Tryston Salyers were in charge of carrying the boxed meals into the home while the younger children carried the toys.
Villanueva said she was grateful for the help.
I think its starting to get better, she said.