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Local Group Collecting Items For Fire Victims
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The California Valley Patriots are collecting donations for victims of the California wildfires. Left front, President Dan Fagundes and right front, Vice President Lew Conley along with volunteers from Oakdale, Modesto, Lathrop, and Stockton have been collecting items for fire victims. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

Driving into the Crossroads Shopping Center in Riverbank recently you may have noticed several flags and signs that read “California Valley Patriots,” “Donation Items,” and “Fire Victims Donations.” The group is called California Valley Patriots and President Dan Fagundes and Vice President Lew Conley were on hand collecting items and cash donations for the victims of the current fires in Northern California.

For the past three years, Conley explained that they have been posting up at the SaveMart parking lot in Riverbank as well as other locations like Turlock and Modesto to collect donations for the people that have been affected by the fires. They are not sure which way they will be taking the donations collected but Conley and Fagundes expressed that 100 percent of the cash and donated items will go to those in need that have been affected by the fires.

The group recently hosted a celebration called Patriot Day at Woodward Reservoir where they invited a few different groups to join them as well as the public. In June the group was on the Keyes Road overpass waving the American flag in celebration of Flag Day.

The next event for the California Valley Patriots will be their third annual Second Amendment Rally on Saturday, Aug. 25 at 10 a.m. and, newly added this year, a car show as part of the rally. The event is scheduled at 2200 McHenry Ave., in Modesto. Planned are vendors and guest speakers including Assemblyman Heath Flora and Fagundes and Conley said it is a family friendly event.

“We work with a lot of local and state politicians,” said Conley. “We are working on getting Jeff Dirkse, who is going to be our next Sheriff, to speak at the rally.”

In the past few years the group has sent eight truckloads of items to the victims of the Detwiler fire, five vehicles with donations and $1,000 cash was sent to help victims of the fire in Santa Rosa, and when the floods hit Texas they sent a 45 foot trailer with items. When asked what people are in most need of, Fagundes and Conley answered by saying “everything.” They explained that the needs change daily.

They are planning on making return visits to the SaveMart parking lot for additional collections, so look for the flags. The group is expected to be there today, Wednesday, Aug. 8. For more information visit them on Facebook at

“Riverbank has been really good here,” stated Fagundes. “People need to remember it could be in your backyard. So you need to help out because you never know when it is going to be you that might need the help.”