‘Tis The Season of Giving Back

The weather is chilly and the days have become far shorter, this can only mean one thing: it’s time for The Downtown Merchants Association to kick off its 24th annual Christmas Open House. During the open house, local shops stay open late from 5-9 p.m. and visitors are greeted by store owners offering hot cocoa, warm cider, fresh baked cookies, hors d’oeuvres, wine and a slice of nostalgia.

As bundled up shoppers walk from store to store, carolers will serenade them as they peruse unique boutiques and antiques. In the heart of downtown, children will have an opportunity to get their picture taken with Santa Claus and take a ride on an antique fire truck. But one local business has something to be especially thankful for this holiday season, as Farmers Insurance celebrates its first time being apart of The Downtown Merchants Christmas Open House.

Mike Beggs of Farmers Insurance opened his doors to the community of Exeter in September. A long time resident of the small town, Beggs jumped on the opportunity to manage a Farmers branch in his hometown.

“I really like this town. It’s been neat to see people who stayed in the community,” said Beggs. But the first face and voice clients are met with is that of Lucy Collins, another lifelong Exeterite. In addition to provide the citizens of Exeterite. In addition to providing the citizens of Exeter with excellent insurance, both Beggs and Collins are members of the Optimist Club of Exeter.

While Beggs was first approached by a fellow member of Optimist, Collins heard about the service club while attending Kaweah High School. “I remember going to a mixer and thinking half of these people are my teachers,” laughed Collins. However, Collins eventually joined the club and will be now be hosting a wine auction and mixer during the first Christmas Open House on Thursday, Dec. 3. All proceeds from the wine auction will go toward scholarships for local continuation high school students. And, according to Beggs, the event has been the brain child of Collins.

“Every penny goes toward scholarships. I know how important this is because I got a scholarship through Optimist and it helped me a lot,” shared Collins.

Each year Optimist provides scholarships to graduating continuation high school students to further their education. With her scholarship, Collins was able to finish her general education and take college courses which put her on the path to become a licensed insurance agent.

“Taking classes like communications really helped me meet people and was a gateway for opportunity,” said Collins.

The Farmers Insurance Group of Companies make up one of the country’s largest insurers of vehicles, homes and small businesses, and provide a wide range of other insurance and financial services and products. Farmers is proud to serve more than 10 million households with more than 20 million individual policies across all 50 states through the efforts of over 50,000 exclusive and independent agents and nearly 24,000 employees.

Farmers Insurance is located at 411 East Pine St. in Exeter. Collins and Beggs can be reached at 559-838-0249.

All of Exeter’s shops will be open on Thursday, Dec. 3 for the Christmas Open House kickoff. The Open House will continue on Thursday, Dec. 10 and Dec. 17 from 5-9 p.m. in downtown Exeter. Fire truck rides are sponsored by Tricia Kirksey Real Estate. For more information, call the Exeter Chamber of Commerce at 559-592-2919 or visit www.exeterchamber.com.

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