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Making a difference

HANFORD — At Hannah’s House and the Frasieur Home, Christmas doesn’t usually consist of presents. But thanks to the Christmas Break Baseball and Softball camps organized by Dalton Silva, there were plenty to go around on Wednesday.

Silva, a longtime resident of Hanford and 2010 graduate of Hanford High School, hosted the two camps Dec. 15-16 with the goal of giving back. The community came through and more than 130 toys were gathered between the two camps.

On Wednesday afternoon, moms and children were brought into a room at Hannah’s House with a Christmas tree and those presents waiting underneath. As they were handed out and unwrapped, delight and joy came across everyone’s face, especially the children.

Kari Snow, a mom at Hannah’s House, opened presents with her daughter, Chelle, and called the moment special.

“It is great to see people from the community coming and offering us the support,” Snow said. “I personally have gotten used to being looked down on … so to have the community come out and support us in a time that we really need the help is awesome.”

Knowing the presents came from the community meant a lot for Shania Garvin, who was with her daughter on Christmas for the first time.

“I really didn’t think that people paid attention to us or would care as much as they do,” Garvin said. “I’m really grateful for the kids who had to sacrifice some of the things that they had. It’s just a wonderful feeling. I never had that kind of support from anybody, let alone being here and having the support, it feels good.”

Among the gifts were Star Wars lightsabers, a skateboard, stuffed animals and more. Salvador Salazar, owner of Mercado Del Valle, donated two large gifts in a new volleyball and soccer set.

The old volleyball net, consisting of wood, PVC pipe and an old net, was replaced shortly after the new one was opened and residents were playing with it soon after. The two soccer nets were also assembled and will serve as another activity for the residents.

Marisa Nardiello, the program Manager for Hannah’s House and the Frasieur Home, which provides substance abuse treatment, mental health counseling, parenting and family groups and more, called the moment of seeing the children open presents “unforgettable and breathtaking.”

“We do have people who donate, but not the mass amounts that Dalton was able to donate and the people from the baseball camps were able to contribute to the kids,” Nardiello said. “We had so many gifts that were donated we also were able to put new toys in our child-care room, so that when the kids are here full-time, not just the kids that are here today, they’re able to play with these gifts today, next week, next year.”

Silva, who was present on Wednesday, said the whole whirlwind experience was an amazing one. He plans on doing another camp next year with more donations in mind.

“At first it was stressful getting the camp going, finding the people to help, volunteers, donations,” Silva said. “But then as it went on it was overwhelming when everything started coming and seeing all the gifts all the kids brought to today to when they got to open the gifts. It was emotional.”

California 'Make It With Wool' contest held in Hanford

HANFORD — On Dec. 1 at the Kings County UC Cooperative Extension, the California Make It With Wool Contest was held and some local winners were crowned.

The state contest allows fashion sewers and knitters of all ages and skill levels to exhibit their couture sewing skills and techniques, fashion sense and creativity.

The categories included Pre-Teen, Junior, Senior and Adults. Director Sandi Geringer said the state contest serves to select Junior, Senior and Adult finalists to represent California at the National Make It With Wool Competition in New Orleans in January.

Hanford's own Joanne Warmerdam was the Adult winner and will be submitting her garment for national judging. Emily Whiteley was the Senior winner, Marissa Sanchez was the Junior winner and Dustin Geringer was the alternate.

Adella Bender was the Pre-Teen winner and Lilly Barcellos of Hanford was the alternate.

Whiteley and Sanchez will be representing California the end of January at the national competition.

If anyone is interested in joining the competition next year, look for information on the National Make It With Wool website,

The competition is also on Facebook at California Make It With Wool, @CaliMIWW, and Instagram at California Make It With Wool.

Start the New Year off safe

HANFORD — Everyone loves a good party, and ringing in the New Year is the perfect excuse to pop some bubbly.

As the winter holiday season continues, the California Highway Patrol is asking revelers to resolve to start the New Year with safe celebrations. This means planning to not drive impaired or distracted.

“Impairment of any kind while driving is illegal. Alcohol, cannabis, or legal or illegal drugs can all affect your driving,” CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley said. “Impaired driving is a serious crime that can lead to an arrest, serious injury or death.”

Not to mention, the American Automobile Association estimates that a first-time DUI conviction can cost a motorist more than $10,000 in fines, penalties, legal fees and increased insurance costs.

Every year in California, hundreds of people die from alcohol-related car accidents; thousands of injury collisions occur as a result of alcohol consumption; and over 100,000 people are arrested for driving under the influence.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has found that 13.5 percent of drivers reported driving at least once in the past year when they thought their alcohol levels might have been close to, or possibly over, the legal limit.

To combat the prevalence of impaired driving during the holidays, the CHP is conducting a New Year’s maximum enforcement period that started Friday evening and will go on throughout New Year’s Day.

During this period, CHP officials said all available personnel will be on duty. The CHP will focus on impaired drivers, but officers will also watch for distracted driving, speeding and seat belt violations, as well as motorists in need of assistance.

During last year’s New Year’s maximum enforcement period, CHP officials said 40 people died in collisions on California roadways. They also said more than two-thirds of the vehicle occupants killed within CHP jurisdiction were not wearing a seat belt.

In addition, CHP officers made 936 arrests for driving under the influence during last year’s enforcement period, which was one day shorter than this year’s enforcement effort.

CHP just released the results of its Christmas maximum enforcement period, which wrapped up just before midnight on Christmas Day. During the four-day enforcement effort, officials said 47 people were killed in collisions throughout the state. Around 41 percent of all the victims who died within CHP jurisdiction were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision.

In addition, the CHP made more than 1,100 arrests throughout the state.

Officer Kenneth Bird with the CHP Hanford area office said if people decide to imbibe, they must do so responsibly and safely by not driving and getting an Uber, Lyft or taxi instead.

“If you have to take the time to think about whether you’ve had too much to drink, that means you’ve had too much and it’s time to get a sober driver,” Bird said.

Bird also wanted to remind drivers that alcohol is not the only thing that can impair your driving skills. He said if you get into a traffic collision while intoxicated with any drug or alcohol and you kill someone, you could be charged with murder.

In an effort to educate the public on the dangers of impaired driving and reduce traffic-related crashes and injuries, AAA offers its Tipsy Tow service over several holidays and celebratory occasions throughout the year.

Tipsy Tow provides a free ride home and vehicle tow of up to 10 miles for any driver, not just AAA members. For mileage beyond this, motorists are charged a standard towing rate.

The New Year’s Tipsy Tow program begins New Year’s Eve at 6 p.m. and ends Jan. 1 at 6 a.m.

Drivers, potential passengers, party hosts, bartenders, restaurant managers or anyone who wants to ensure a safe ride home for an intoxicated motorist may contact AAA for this service.

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Hanford man finds Jordan card in pack waiting 27 years to be opened

HANFORD — Sometimes it pays to clean out the back of your closet.

Hanford man Alfred Benavides learned this when earlier this month he uncovered a rare treasure in a box of old basketball cards. After finding a box of unopened 1991 Fleer basketball cards, he decided to finally open up a box, as a way to celebrate his 62nd birthday.

After carefully tearing open the foil wrapping, Benavides found the face of “His Airness” staring back at him, Michael Jordan.

“You never know what may be hiding in Aunt Mary’s closet or Uncle Joe’s tacklebox,” he said. “I’ve had these cards for 27 years.”

Benavides, a die-hard 49ers fan, took to collecting sports cards in the late 80's and early 90's as a way to bond with his children. He has two sons and three daughters.

“These are the special moments a father can share with a son -- going to games, exchanging cards and sometimes finding a gem that’s lost within a pile of rocks,” he said.

Benavides has since given his two sons a few packs of cards each that they will open on their birthdays later this year. His youngest son was not yet born when the trading card in question went to print.

The box of cards survived a few spring cleanings over the years, Benavides said. Over the years, some similar boxes of unopened cards had been lost in moves, left behind, or simply forgotten. Luck would have it that this special box stayed with him, albeit collecting dust.

The card, in pristine condition is currently listed on online auction site Ebay at anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $38,000.

Benavides, a public health worker and former San Jose city councilman, took the card to DJ’s Collectible Shoppe after finding it. DJ’s, located in downtown Hanford, specializes in anything fit to collect.

“It’s quite a find, especially because most people tend to open their cards right away,” owner Jason Weihert said.

Weihert said that with Jordan’s reputation as the greatest who ever played the sport, he’s become basketball’s version of Babe Ruth. Ruth’s baseball cards have a tendency to be passed down through generations, inherited and saved for future generations.

“We’re starting to see that with Jordan,” he said.

While cards themselves aren’t inherently valuable — Weihert reminds that you can’t just take them to the bank and trade them for gold – the condition of cards and personal investment are what make collectors shell out big money for them.

While it remains to be seen if Benavides can turn his new-found card into sizable retirement fund, he said he’s not sure what his plans are anyway. He may just hang on to it for a while and besides, he’s quick to point out, collecting has always been more about finding a way to bond with is children that it was a way to get rich.