Nonprofits Say No Such Thing as Too Many Toys
By Dianne Anderson
Without the mad rush of holiday shopping from one glittery storefront to the next, Christmas is a little harder to gauge this year.
One sign of the times is how fast Santa’s list is filling up as local families attempt to get through the holiday without spending the rent on toys and food.
On December 18 starting at 10:00 a.m., Pastor Paul Jones will be distributing at Perris Hill Park. He is also requesting that anyone who would like to donate additional food or toys can drop them off at the event at 8:00 a.m. to be redistributed to those in need.
He said they were blessed to get a large last-minute bundle of toys, but overall it was harder to score this year. Some of their prior corporate donors pulled through.
“If you know someone who knows someone. It’s who knows you, not what you know. Arrowhead United Way was extremely helpful,” said Pastor Jones of Benjamin E Jones Resource Center.
The event is a first come, first serve, and he is prepared to serve about 500.
“We just picked up 11 bags of stuffed animals before Thanksgiving. They’re full of 2020 stuffed animals with ribbons on their necks, and we’re talking larger than garbage bags,” he said.
Volunteers will be masked and gloved up with their temperatures checked. They are taking all precautions as visitors arrive at the gate.
“When you get to the food part, they ask if you want it in the back seat or the trunk, you keep going and have a blessed day,” he said. “If they’re not smiling we ask – do you see us smiling through the mask?”
Across the County in Ontario, Terrance Stone with YVYLA is hosting his 15th annual event. This year, they are doubling their regular anticipated crowd. Usually, they accommodate about 1,000 families.
On December 19, the event participation is by Eventbrite registration only and requires age and gender information. He said they will accept requests until they hit around 2,000 so each child can receive more than one toy.
Until the day of distribution, he is accepting more toy donations. Anyone wanting to drop off donations can contact the office at 909.723.1695, or bring the toys down to the Ontario event.
Since the pandemic, Stone has hosted pull up and pick up food events in several cities, including some partnerships with churches, and across the Inland Empire and Los Angeles County. People drive up, pop the trunk and everything is socially distanced. Volunteers are PPE protected with gloves and hand sanitizers.
Lately, he said everything they receive by way of donations goes out about as quick as it comes in. Not long ago, they gave away 800 backpacks in the High Desert that were gone within two hours.
“We’re still just using that same format instead of food, except it going to be Christmasy,” Stone said. “We’ve got a great formula as far as navigating people and crowds, keeping them in their cars, social distance. We’ve got a good template we’ve been using over and over.”
This year, Terry Boykins with Project Fighting Chance said they are also keeping the circle small to get help out to families. They will accommodate their participants at the Home of Neighborly Services, where they serve around 60 students per day, for a total of about 120 with after school gym and tutoring classes.
Boykins said that Project Fighting Chance also recently postponed its USA boxing match championship until March 2021.
But his big concern for the community is that so many people don’t have cars, which means a greater potential for exposure as Westsiders walk-in for goods.
“When you’re talking about an entire community, most people don’t show up in cars, they walk down the street and come with shopping bags,” he said. “It’s not so much the distribution, it’s the orchestration.”
He said putting the celebration on pause was a hard call for the board, but he feels it’s the best call.
The event had planned for a community-wide event with toys, diapers and small appliances for all. Instead, they will try to get food and essentials directly out to local participating Project Fighting Chance families, or drop off goods at the individual homes.
“Are we capable of delaying some things?” he said. “These are special circumstances. Because it’s the holidays, they want it to go away, but the virus doesn’t care what day of the year it is.”
For more information, or to help, see
Pastor Paul Jones:
To register for Winter Wonderland:
Project Fighting Chance programs: