12 Faces of Christmas: 2013

The Fresno BeeDecember 24, 2013 

Sarah Ramirez is a Faces of Christmas subject and she is involved in several community projects in Pixley, including the Huerto Esperanza community garden. She is also co-founder of BeHealthy Tulare, a healthy advocacy group based in Pixley.

CRAIG KOHLRUSS — THE FRESNO BEE Buy Photo

It doesn't take much to commit an act of kindness.

Sure, the hours and effort that go into that act can be enormous. Take, for example, all the Saturdays that Stacey Flora spends at Habitat for Humanity projects mentoring women. Or the years of retirement that Raul and Ana Maria Diaz have spent helping the Valley's Latino farmworkers find a better life.

The Bee celebrates those acts of kindness and more with the 12 Faces of Christmas. Now in its 19th year, our profile of people who embody the spirit of the season has shed light on the largely unsung good deeds of more than 300 people.

The common bond among all: They got involved.

Serge Haitayan, the southeast Fresno businessman who's always there to help -- especially for the children at nearby elementary schools and their families -- says the door's always open: "You can help by stepping up and doing something similar."

Flora adds that there is at least one requirement: "Have a heart to help people."

That's about it. There's no age limit, as two of this year's Faces attest: Eleven-year-old Rylee Spray puts together care packages and sends them to troops and their dogs in Afghanistan; the Prestige Singing Seniors of Visalia, whose members include 95-year-old Dorothea Schletewitz, spread cheer through song throughout the central San Joaquin Valley, giving performances at hospitals, elementary schools, preschools, skilled-nursing facilities, mobile-home communities and churches.

And the rewards can be boundless. Karen Wemett, a health aide at Miramonte Elementary in Clovis who looks out for the well-being of her school's families, sums it up best:

"It's something that just makes my heart feel good."

Read all 12 of the 2013 Faces of Christmas profiles at www.fresnobee.com/faces

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