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Christmas comes early again Allison K. Sampite | Sat, Oct 01 2011 12:00 PM

It's kind of like winning the sweepstakes, but better.

On Saturday, 10 Chula Vista homeowners, eight of them veterans or their loved ones, will receive an early Christmas gift: a remodeled home.

Recipients of this gift are those who, for various reasons, have been unable to maintain their residence. Others are in danger of losing their home.

That's where Christmas in October comes in.

For the past 13 years, the program has worked to preserve and revitalize houses for low-income homeowners and ensure safe, independent and sanitary homes.

"I think we create small miracles in their lives," co-founder Emerald Randolph said.

Christmas in October started out providing help to low-income seniors and disabled persons but has since expanded its scope to include anyone who qualifies.

The program was started in 1997 by Randolph and former Chula Vista City Councilwoman Patty Davis.

"I wanted the Christmas in October program because I saw what National City was doing with their Christmas in April program," Randolph said.

"Many of the people onboard have been with us since we started," she said.

This will be the fifth year of volunteering for Lowes employee Robin Jones.

"I thought it was a wonderful opportunity to get involved in something that gave back to the community," she said. "I come back each year because of the look on the people's faces and how appreciative they are."

The Chula Vista Police Department wants to have some 15 officers help out this Saturday.

"It's good to have some kind of a focus as far as giving back," said officer Leo Banales. "This is a tangible way to give back in the sense that we've got family to help and a property picked out."

Janet Wheeler is the store manager of the Home Depot off H Street in Plaza Court and has two employees who are house captains this year.

This is the first year that the program has been able to help out with 10 homes.

"Our biggest struggle is to get people (homeowners) to understand that this is truly free," Wheeler said. "They expect it to be too good to be true, but it's not, it's real."

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