December 4, 2020: Operation Blue Santa, Turlock Dry Cleaners, Pho 7 Anh

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Hey everyone! You are listening to the Local Turlock Podcast for the week of December 4th. Giving you some of latest scoops, news, stories, and business spotlight for the week. Let’s start with our first story, despite the pandemic, the city and community offering Christmas cheer to kick off the Christmas season throughout Turlock this weekend. Next on our list, Gym owner, Alec Schmitt, a Stanislaus State graduate decided to leave his job with the California Department of Food and Agriculture to pursue personal training full time which led him to open XX Functional Fitness in Turlock. More of the latest news, Stanislaus County offering free flu vaccines at drive-thru clinic on Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Johansen High School. Moving on, a can-do attitude among the Turlock Police Department is bringing the jolly ol' elf back to the community as Operation Blue Santa gets the green light in Turlock. Good news, Life-Saving Insulin is now available at free or no cost to people living in Stanislaus and Merced Counties. Wondering where to cut your own Christmas tree or buy one in Northern California? Stay tuned as we give you locations on where to go to cut your own Christmas tree or if you are looking to pick up one in Stanislaus County. This is the best time to show our support to our local businesses especially during this pandemic as I give you 2 business spotlights this week. Also sharing the latest updates about COVID 19 in Stanislaus County. All that and more today in this week's Local Turlock podcast.

Despite pandemic, City and community offering Christmas cheer

The holidays may look and feel different this year, but there are still countless ways to kick off the Christmas season throughout Turlock this weekend.  First, a decades-old tradition will be replaced with a socially-distanced spectacle this Friday as the City of Turlock hosts its first-ever Christmas Cruise at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds. From 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 4, carloads filled with community members will have the chance to drive through “A Night of Lights on Display” — an event that Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Director Allison Van Guilder hopes will fill the void left behind by the cancellation of Turlock’s annual downtown Christmas parade due to COVID-19.  The Turlock Firefighters Local 2434 is sponsoring the event, which saw the City partner with the fairgrounds in order to provide spaces for participants to decorate in lieu of floats. Rather than organizations and businesses driving through a crowded Main Street as part of a parade, the community will instead drive through their displays on Friday from a safe distance. The firefighters will also be on site collecting unwrapped toys and canned food to donate to Turlock Together.  Turlock Transit will be hosting shuttle tours to cruise through the event while following all COVID health guidelines, and more information on this option can be found at

Gym owner pursues passion in Turlock

Name of business: XX Functional Fitness

Type of business: Gym

Location: 1420 Freitas Park, Turlock

Contact information: 209-447-8885

Specialty: Kettlebell workouts

In October 2019, the stars aligned for Alec Schmitt. The Stanislaus State graduate realized last year that his job with the California Department of Food and Agriculture wasn’t making him happy, and decided he’d like to pursue personal training full time. On the same day that Schmitt turned in the keys to his now-former job, the owner of the Turlock gym where he had helped train people for the past few years called him and said they were looking to sell the business.  Today the location is known as XX Functional Fitness — the name Schmitt gave his first business endeavor when he bought the gym last fall.  He was inspired to chase his dreams after losing a close friend who had done the same. His friend, an artist, had chosen to forgo a “normal” job and fulfill his desire to do what he loved for a living. Schmitt’s friend was just beginning to realize his dream when he passed away unexpectedly, leaving his comrade behind to ponder the meaning of life. Coincidentally, the same day Schmitt turned in his keys and received a call about purchasing the gym was the anniversary of his friend’s death. Now, just over a year later, Schmitt has had to overcome hurdles of his own — from remodeling and marketing to a full-blown pandemic — in order to transform XX Functional Fitness into the gym it is today. The gym has adapted, however, with Schmitt making home visits for one-on-one personal training and even Facetiming clients to ensure they stay up-to-speed while absent.  Those who are still able to make it into Schmitt’s socially-distanced classes find a wide array of equipment to work with, from Olympic weightlifting racks to a massive number of kettlebells. Schmitt is a certified expert with the latter, which offers a unique, full-body workout with one small — but heavy — workout tool. He’s also using his position in the community to give back through the XX Holiday Shoppe, which will feature over 20 small businesses at the gym to provide a holiday shopping destination for the community and collect donated toys from attendees for Westside Ministries. The XX Holiday Shoppe will take place from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 13.

Stanislaus County offering free flu vaccines at drive-thru clinic on Friday

With local hospitals full of COVID-19 patients, Stanislaus County Health Services Agency wants to minimize any additional burden of influenza by offering free drive-thru influenza vaccines on Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Johansen High School. Stanislaus County has had two cases of influenza this fall and nationwide, influenza activity has been minimal, so it is not too late to get immunized. Seasonal influenza usually arrives in the Northern Hemisphere in late fall lasting through spring, and multiple strains of the flu virus can occur in the same season. Influenza infections typically start with abrupt onset of fevers, chills and body aches, with associated congestion, cough or sore throat. These findings are also common with other respiratory viruses, including coronavirus. However, COVID-19 may have a wider spectrum of symptoms, including having no symptoms and the loss of smell and taste, which are rare with influenza. Flu vaccines are recommended for anyone 6 months of age and older, but are especially important for people at high risk for serious complications from the flu including including: infants at least 6 months old and young children, individuals age 65 and older, pregnant women, caregivers of seniors, infants and other high risk individuals, those with underlying chronic medical conditions such as diabetes or a chronic heart, lung, kidney or liver disease or with immunocompromise due to illness or medications, such as chemotherapy. At the drive-thru clinic, free flu shots will be provided to anyone 6 months of age and older on a first-come, first-served basis. No appointment required. Additional information about influenza and flu vaccines can be found at: Stanislaus County website, from the California Department of Public Health flu website, at and from the CDC at

Operation Blue Santa gets the green light in Turlock

Between budget constraints, staff shortages and the coronavirus pandemic it seemed all but certain that Blue Santa would have to be shelved for the holiday season, but instead a can-do attitude among the Turlock Police Department is bringing the jolly ol' elf back to the community. Operation Blue Santa started in 2012 with the mission of providing toys and donated items to children and families in need. Key components of the operation were school and home visits by Blue Santa and presentations on crime prevention and safety. It also relied heavily on volunteers to go out on shopping blitzs and gather for gift wrapping sessions. But this year, COVID-19 safety protocols made all of that impossible. The program is operating a bit different this year. Instead of using volunteers to gift wrap, the program purchased gift boxes to put presents in. And instead of the delivering of gifts using overtime, officers will be making deliveries during their normal shifts, as time allows. Blue Santa will be making a few appearances around town, mostly at stores during sponsor drop-off events. Blue Santa will be donning a mask to go with blue uniform. Those who are interested in sponsoring a family can contact Grace at Those wishing to make a monetary donation either by cash or check can mail them to the police department at 244 N. Broadway, Turlock, CA. 95380. Checks should be made out to the City of Turlock, with Blue Santa in the memo line. Monetary donations can also be dropped off at the police department, but people must call ahead first. Grace can be reached at (209)216-6879 Monday through Thursday. On Friday, people can contact Sgt. Steve Crawford at (209) 668-6503.

Life-Saving Insulin Now Available at Free or No Cost to People Living in Stanislaus and Merced Counties

Thousands of people in Stanislaus and Merced counties can now access free or low-cost insulin through a groundbreaking partnership. Building upon a program created by pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Company, Legacy Health Endowment and locally owned Boies' Medical Center Pharmacy have teamed up to provide Lilly insulin to any qualifying person who lives within one of 19 eligible zip codes and struggles to afford this life-saving medicine. To receive Lilly insulin through this initiative, patients must have either a high co-pay, no insurance coverage, or be enrolled in Medicare Part D. Patients will pay just $35 for their insulin; if they're unable to afford the $35 co-pay, free insulin is available by enrolling at  Enrolling in the program and accessing insulin is easy. Simply fill your prescription at Boies' Medical Center Pharmacy or have your existing prescription transferred there. This independent pharmacy in Turlock has a long history of providing cost-effective, reliable services to the community. The pharmacy will also provide free diabetes testing supplies to people enrolled in the program. The insulin program is not available outside of Boies' Medical Center Pharmacy. For contant: Jeffrey Lewis 209-250-2315.

Where to cut your own Christmas tree or buy one in Northern California

So you’ve had your fill of Thanksgiving leftovers and are ready to venture out to cut your own Christmas tree this year or pick one up from a local farm? Below is a guide for where to go in Northern California, if you're looking for a fresh-cut tree. For those hoping to score a permit to chop down a tree within designated areas of the Eldorado National Forest or Tahoe Basin, you’re out of luck. Permits for the 2020 season are already sold out. Here is where you can find information on where to secure a permit to chop your own tree in other forests:

Here are options on where to buy a tree in Stanislaus County:

  • Hay Family Farms in Modesto is located at 5406 Milnes Road, and has over 4,000 living trees to choose from.
  • Heidi's Fresh Christmas Trees is located at 4220 Dale Road in Modesto and sells fresh cut Noble Fir, Nordman Fir, Grand Fir, and Douglas Fir Christmas Trees.
  • Ron's Amazing Christmas Trees is located at 716 N Daubenberger Road, and sources their trees from Willammette Valley in Oregon.
  • Tracy's Trees in Turlock is located at 1807 Geer Road.

Business Spotlight:

Turlock Dry Cleaners

Providing professional service over 20 years In Turlock and surrounding cities, Turlock Dry Cleaners is focusing on quality and customer service and that’s their number one goal always Now even better with the additional services that they provide including:

  • Professional dry-cleaning laundry and spot clean.
  • Starch and shirts or jeans per customer request.
  • Wedding gowns clean and preservation.
  • All size comforters bed sets and blankets.
  • All size area rugs.
  • Hats of any type.
  • Professional alteration hemming, sizing, fixing.
  • And now adding free pick-up and delivery within 30 miles from Turlock.

Location: 1581 Geer Rd Turlock, CA 95380

Contact Number: (209) 669-0244 

Operational Hours: Monday to Friday (7am to 6pm) Saturday 8am to 2pm Sun Closed

Pho 7 Anh

If you are in the mood for some pho, the place to be is Pho 7 Anh. This place is a gem! Don’t let the name fool you. They serve authentic Vietnamese, Thai, and Lao dishes. Plus, the food is consistently delicious and always comes out in a timely manner.  Pho 7 Anh is the real deal! 

Location: 503 N Golden State Blvd Turlock, CA 95380

Phone Number (209) 620-8022

Operational Hours: Monday to Sunday 10 am to 9pm

Coronavirus update, Dec. 3: Hospital patients reach 215 in Stanislaus; 225 new cases

Hospitals in Stanislaus County had another jump in COVID-19 patients Wednesday, to a level not seen since the midsummer surge. Meanwhile, the county reported 225 new positive tests, more than five times the level that would help loosen restrictions on business and gatherings. The death toll rose to 430 with the two announced Wednesday by the county Health Services Agency. The county has 22,624 people who have tested positive, 228,763 who tested negative and 20,234 who are presumed recovered. The state reported a 16.27% positivity rate in Stanislaus on Tuesday, based on 1,481 tests. That figure is released a day later than the county agency’s data. The rolling seven-day average was 11.91%. The 14-day average was 12.24%. The state requires a positivity rate of under 8 percent to advance to the next less restrictive tier in its system. That means an average of 40 or fewer new cases in Stanislaus. A total of 215 people were hospitalized Wednesday with confirmed cases of COVID-19, up from 198 on Tuesday. The number topped 220 at times during summer but hovered around 40 earlier this fall.  Geographically: Modesto has 8,121 positive cases, Turlock has 3,090 and Ceres has 2,520.Thank you for tuning in to this week’s episode. Don’t forget to visit our website,, to stay up-to-date on our local news. You can always email me at and visit our Facebook at and leave us some comments! Stay tuned for next week’s exciting episode! Have a great weekend and always stay safe!