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A local family disrupts tradition with a new kind of Christmas

Cupertino Electric VP Bruce Baxter's family put some thought into it and made their own Christmas memory.
The back packs are full of items kids can use and enjoy
The month before Christmas is busy with generous gifts being dropped off and sessions of wrapping
Young man gets his backpack from CASA advocate

The idea came up over Thanksgiving. The Baxter family was all together and the conversation turned to what they could do for Christmas that would be meaningful to them and help someone else.

That's when the idea of backpacks came up. Cupertino Electric Senior Vice-president Bruce Baxter and his wife Kathy started working on the idea right away and Bruce says, for a while the whole game plan was  drawn out on the whiteboard in his Hollister office. 

Delivery day ended up being Dec.18 and the recipient was local nonprofit CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), where 30 backpacks were shuffled in, jammed full of helpful items and a few surprise gifts. CASA is a nonprofit that advocates for abused or neglected children placed in foster care; upholding the children's rights while pursuing a safe and permanent home for them. 

The Baxters had made-up 15 specifically for boys in different age groups and 15 for girls. In the end, it was a rewarding family project with the Baxter's son Bryan and his wife Mashell, their daughter Amy and her husband Nick Bailey and even their one year old daughter Emma. The group donation was also made in memory of the Baxter's son, Adam Baxter.

The thirty colorful backpacks were purchased in different designs for several age groups they had identified; 5-8 years, 9-12 years and over 12. The packs were carefully filled with school supplies, games, gift cards to the movie theater, toiletry bags and a special surprise for the older kids. 

Bruce Baxter told BenitoLink while stacking backpacks, that the family realized they really didn't want to buy gifts for themselves. "None of them needed anything for Christmas and we wanted to help solve a problem," Baxter said.

The main goal for the group was "to give the (foster) kids hope, something to have of their own and something to help keep them busy.

Lori Arnold with CASA, was surprised when she got the call and still seemed a little shocked by CASA's good fortune and the huge pile of backpacks filling the office. "I don't know what to say except thank you so much," Arnold told Baxter.  

"At CASA, we really want to give the kids something brand new. We've found over the years that they have so little to begin with, and often times what they do have is a hand-me-down." Because of that, Arnold said, they really light up with new items.

Arnold told Benitolink CASA already had a backpack drop off for a specific boy in mind. At 2:30 in the morning Dec. 18, he had been removed from his home and brought to be with new family members who were not expecting a 14 year-old to be living with them. 

"For sure, he'll be receiving one of these back packs," Arnold told Baxter, still thanking him profusely as he headed out the door. 


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Leslie David's picture
Leslie David (Leslie David)

Leslie David is a Bay Area independent reporter/producer and is a BenitoLink founding board member. She has produced for radio, television, newspaper and magazines in both California and Wyoming. She was with KRON-TV News in San Francisco as camera-woman, editor and field producer, where she won the Commonwealth Club's Thomas Storke Award with Linda Yee for their series on the Aids Epidemic. She started as a small market news reporter shooting her own 16mm film at KEYT-TV Santa Barbara. Leslie lives on a ranch with her family in San Benito County.

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