Tax aid program coming to Gustine

A volunteer-based tax assistance will be offered in Gustine during the upcoming tax filing program.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, known as VITA, offers low- to middle-income filers free assistance with their personal state and federal income tax returns.

The program was created by the Internal Revenue Service and is sponsored by local agencies - in this case the United Way of Merced County.

Program coordinator Jonathan Towell said the city of Gustine has agreed to make space available for the program, which will start in February and continue through the tax filing season.

Towell said the program has been offered in Merced since 2012, and is being expanded to other sites in the county in 2020.

Towell said the program is geared for those with incomes of $56,000 or less.

He said local volunteers are being sought to help staff the program.

Volunteers are certified through a two-day training and testing program, he said.

Persons wishing to learn more about becoming a VITA volunteer may contact Towell at 446-5042 or online at www.freetaxesmerced.com.

Gustine toy drive

The annual Miss Gustine Toy Drive gets under way this week, with collection barrels located at Gustine City Hall, Pioneer Drug, Dollar General, Coast Hardware and Tri Counties Bank.

The toy drive is being held in conjunction with the Gustine Lions Club’s annual community-wide toy and food drive, which will be held Friday evening, Dec. 20. Toys donated through both drives will be distributed to those less fortunate Saturday, Dec. 21.

Gingerbread craft at Gustine library

The Gustine branch library will host a gingerbread house workshop Saturday, Dec. 7.

Sessions are scheduled for 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

All necessary ingredients are provided.

The event is for ages 4 and older. Parents must be present with children under 8.

Advance registration is required.

Visit the Gustine branch library to register.

Newman branch library

The Newman branch library will host a variety of December activities.

Wee move & play sessions are offered Wednesdays, Dec. 4, 11 and 18, at 10:30 a.m.

A snowman paint day for adults is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 7, at 2 p.m. Participants will paint a winter-themed masterpiece. Advance registration is required.

A family story time will be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10.

LEGO days are set for 3:30 p.m. Thursdays, Dec. 12 and 26.

An escape room activity is planned for Tuesday, Dec. 17, at 3 p.m. Participants will use their problem-solving and sleuthing skills to catch the Gingerbread Man before he ruins winter. Advance registration is required.

The Newman library is located at 1305 Kern St. Call 862-2010 for additional information.

Newman Christmas parade

Organizers of Newman’s downtown lighted Christmas parade are accepting registration through Dec. 4.

The parade will be held Saturday, Dec. 7, as part of the community’s holiday celebration.

For more information, call 862-3200.

West Side Players auditions set

Auditions for the upcoming West Side Players production of “Savannah Sipping Society” will be held in late December.

Auditions are scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 28, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 29, at 3 p.m. at West Side Theatre.

The script calls for four women in their 40s through 60s.

The production will be held in late April.

Read-throughs and rehearsals start in January.

For more information, call Harlene Silva, 862-3629.

‘Christmas in the Park’ booth space

Organizers of Gustine’s annual “Christmas in the Park” celebration are accepting applications for booth space and seeking sponsors to support the event.

The festive holiday celebration will be held Wednesday, Dec. 18, from 6-8:30 in Henry Miller Park.

For sponsorship information, to donate to the event or for booth space, call Cpl. Telan Hosaka, 854-3737. For entertainment and activities, call Tiffany Vitorino, 854-9411.

Newman Salvation Army campaign

Organizers of the Newman Salvation Army kettle campaigns are seeking volunteers to staff the trademark red kettles this holiday season.

The kettle campaign will be held Dec. 7-14, with locations at Bank of the West, Chevron, JJ Liquor and Newman Food Market.

Individuals, clubs and organizations are invited to ring. Orestimba students will earn community service hours for participating.

To sign up or for more information, call Sandie Lessel, 765-2018.

Clothing, blanket drive

Veterans of Foreign Wars, Joseph G. Rose Post 7635, will host a clothing, blanket and coat drive Dec. 8-9 to benefit those experiencing homelessness.

New and clean used articles will be accepted at the Veterans Memorial Hall, 145 Fifth St., in Gustine, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day.

For more information, call George Martinez, 479-9936.