Gustine toy drive

The annual Miss Gustine Toy Drive is under way, 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.

Newman branch library

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

A wee move & play session is offered Wednesday, Dec. 18, at 10:30 a.m.

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.

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.

Santa visit at Gustine library

Santa Claus will take time out from his busy December schedule to pay a special visit to the Gustine branch library on Saturday, Dec. 21.

Santa will host story times and special activities at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The program is free of charge. Advance registration is required.

For more information, call 854-3013.

The special program is made possible by the generosity of Friends of the Gustine Library, the Merced County Library System and Santa.

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.