Helping God’s creatures

The first Country Christmas dinner for the homeless and their pets took place last Sunday at the Coarsegold Community Center. Volunteers worked tirelessly to prepare food, collect donations of new and gently used coats, as well as pet supplies such as beds, igloos, sweaters, and dog treats and food.

Angel Ramos of Oakhurst has been homeless for more than a year, due to circumstances in Madera, “that got out of control,” he said. He left his four dogs at “home” while he enjoyed the special holiday meal of ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, salad, and dessert.

Wheelchair-bound Diana Cracium, of Coarsegold, sat with her son, Robert Johnson, a retired CalFire firefighter living on SSI. Their two Chihuahuas, Belle and Aiden, lay calmly on her lap while she ate. They have been living in their van for 20 years, ever since Johnson’s retirement in 1994.

“I’m a huge animal lover and do pet sitting. For many years, I’ve been watching the homeless with their pets,” event coordinator Peggy Potter said. “I just want to make sure the homeless and their pets are being taken care of. It was amazing to see the community blessing them so much with their donations and their time ... I plan on doing this every Christmas.”

Potter took the leftovers to the Wednesday night dinner at the New Community United Methodist Church, and plans on giving the donated coats for the homeless and the pet supplies to Dennis McCort, who coordinates the overnight lodging for the homeless at a number of area churches during the cold, winter months.