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Christmas at work: A heaping holiday helping

A skeleton crew of SCV residents were on the job

Posted: December 25, 2008 3:52 p.m.
Updated: December 26, 2008 9:15 a.m.

Cooks at the Karma Restaurant in Valencia prepare vegetable curry before opening Thursday morning. The Indian restaurant opened with their regular business hours 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Christmas Day.

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Ashton Stoermer of Canyon Country was one among a few workers serving breakfast to a continuous crowd of hungry customers at the Valencia Boulevard Western Bagel shop on Thursday morning. He didn't mind working the 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. shift because his family celebrated Christmas the evening before.

"I either get New Year's or Christmas off," he said. "I picked Christmas because I'll probably have a late New Year's (Eve) night. It's a little hectic today but people need their bagels. Being busy makes the time go by quick too, so it's not so bad."

While Stoermer opened most of his presents on Christmas Eve, he was anxious to get home in the afternoon to look in his stocking.

Stoermer and his coworkers were part of the dedicated skeleton crews working on the widely celebrated holiday. Other than a few coffee shops, grocery stores and mom-and-pop shops, most businesses in the Santa Clarita Valley were closed.

Western Bagel is always open on the holidays, according to employee Lupe Cohen. Customers like Lisa Muzycka and her family could appreciate their open doors.

"We got up early this morning and opened presents. We were going to make breakfast burritos, but we didn't have cheese so we decided to come to Western Bagel," Muzycka said.

Not all Thursday workers had to give up a holiday at home.

As a Hindu, Karma Restaurant Bar and Lounge cook Havinder Singh of Castaic does not celebrate Christmas, so he was not bothered by working Thursday, "as long as he's getting paid," he said with a smile.

But even workers who do celebrate Christmas kept a positive attitude about serving those out and about on Christmas Day.

Karma restaurant manager Vikas Thakur said his Indian cuisine restaurant stays open on the holiday simply because it is good business and he likes to give the community a pleasant dining option.

"We were open last year too and the response was good," he said. "It's nice because all the businesses are closed and if people want to eat out they have nowhere to go except fast food joints," he said.

Thakur also celebrated his Christmas on Christmas Eve.

Jose Luna of Val Verde said he didn't feel like getting up to make his 6 a.m. shift as a Shell gas station cashier, but since his family enjoyed their festivities on Christmas Eve, he said he "was not missing much" on Thursday.

In the mix of holiday workers were some who labored for nothing in return.

Patti Jameson of Canyon Country is a volunteer reserve deputy with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station. She spent four hours of her Christmas Day distributing donated gifts to underprivileged families in the valley.

The station recently hosted a toy store for many of the families, but Jameson said there were some toys left over that were distributed over Christmas Eve and Day by many of the volunteer deputies to additional families.

"I have a Boxer named Bella that thinks it was really inappropriate to leave this morning. The only way she let me go is because I promised to give her Christmas treats," she said.

Despite having to leave her lonely pup at home, Jameson was happy to donate some of her Christmas day to make a difference in others' lives.

"I'm not seeing my family or extended family this year so I'm stopping at friends' houses later. I'll feel like I did something meaningful for these families," she said while grabbing breakfast for deputies at the station.

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