The Fullerton Boys & Girls Club partnered up with the Fullerton Fire Department for this year’s Holiday Toy Drive from now until Dec. 20 in the hopes of safely bringing the community together this holiday season.
Alexa Martinez, membership director, and Sofia Pineda, director of School Sites, work alongside each other at the Boys & Girls Club to ensure that things are running smoothly at the center.
The Boys & Girls Club is a nonprofit organization servingp as an after-school service for kids in the Fullerton area. The organization also helps educate kids with life skills outside of their normal classrooms as it focuses on preparing them for the real world.
Along with classes and other activities, events such as the toy drive provide entertainment and fun for the kids and their families.
“It is a free event for the community so for a lot of our low income families, they take advantage and it is maybe the only toy that their child will receive,” Pineda said. “We really try to do our best to prepare and provide an engaging experience.”
The toy drive has been around for 43 years and has made a huge impact on families in the Fullerton district. On average, the toy drive collects 700 toys annually, and this year the goal is to increase this number to about 900.
Typically the Holiday Toy Drive is a massive event for all families to enjoy with booths, arts and crafts, food, treats and even a Santa Claus on site. However, this year, the toy drive will be a drive-thru experience where kids can still receive toys from the safety of their parents’ cars.
“It's definitely been a ‘learn as you go’ process just because we're constantly having to check with what the CDC guidelines are, obviously there's new updates every day,” Pineda said. “So we're kind of just keeping up with the safety protocols and the cleaning protocols.”
In terms of donating toys, some Fullerton fire stations, as well as Patrick’s Music School and Encore Elite Dance and Cheer both off of Commonwealth Ave, are collecting toys for the drive.
The main goal for the toy drive is to bring the holidays to families who may not be able to experience Christmas.
“This year, I feel like it's especially important to service our community and anyone in the surrounding cities. It’s really important to service them and provide this positive experience,” Martinez said. “As we all know, this has been a crazy year and I feel like everyone kind of needs the holidays.”
Even with the COVID-19 restrictions, the Boys & Girls Club will continue to provide for their community the best they can.
“For me, it was important that we still continued a tradition that we've been doing for 43 years, but it’s important I think to continue these traditions and just provide some type of consistency,” Pineda said.