Nonprofits Ask for Donations to Give More Toys This Xmas
By Dianne Anderson
Canceling Christmas is not an option this year for local nonprofits trying to get food to families, toys to the kids, even as families brace for their unemployment benefits to run dry the day after the holiday.
Kisha Collier with Community Health Action Network in Victorville, said she has been reaching out to their donors, and most have responded, some doubling their contributions from last year to help with the surging demand.
CHAN is hosting a drive-through toy drive, and two days before that event, they will host a virtual online raffle drive. Virtual registration for the raffle and toy drive deadline is December 15. Everyone registered will be entered into the raffle with winnings of free bikes, toys and a PS5 play station.
Like the community, nonprofits are struggling. Early on in the pandemic their organization was alerted that their bigger donors were not giving away turkeys this year because they didn’t have any to give.
They now taking parent sign-ups for Christmas toys. Parents can visit their website to answer questions on the age of the children, and confirm their low-income status. Proof, such as a birth certificate or immunization, will be required to receive a gift bag.
Last year, CHAN served over 600 kids, and this year they expect more. She is seeing a big increase in rental assistance, and giving out referrals for mortgage assistance.
“This is the first time that we’re seeing so many people with mortgages. Usually, it’s renters living paycheck to paycheck, but this is the first time in our history that we’re seeing so many homeowners reaching out for utility assistance,” she said.
CHAN is also hoping for donations and contributions to support the effort. Last year was their largest donor event, which was a great success. This year, they starting early to get resources out to the community.
“In light of COVID 19, we don’t want to not have our toy drive, especially in times like these when the depression is there and kids are not in school. The last thing we wanted to do was cancel,” she said.
In San Bernardino, Akoma Unity Center at Anne Shirrells Community Center, held their turkey and canned food drive and giveaways for Thanksgiving, serving over 100 families.
They also expect the drive-through giveaway of food and toys to go fast. Unlike prior years, their coats and socks giveaway this year will be assigned to their after school students who are most in need.
This is a challenging Christmas
Last year, Jennifer Xicara said they offered more toys for the kids because they had help through Toys for Tots. This year, she said the organization’s website indicated they were only providing toys for individual families instead of nonprofits.
However, she is expecting donations from Santa Claus Inc and Spark of Love from the Fire Department.
“I’m hoping they’ll be able to assist with all 200 toys that we requested,” said Xicara, Akoma operations manager.“We are also relying on corporate donors and individual donors.”
The Akoma center is located in the thick of need. The community has taken a bad hit.
“This has been an area with three generations who have been living in an impoverished and marginalized community, especially with the pandemic those needs have heightened,” she said.
Their phone has been ringing nonstop for help with rental assistance, especially for food as EBT and PEBT have run out for many. The process to get help is also taking families a lot longer.
“We serve children daily that are experiencing first hand those parents with no jobs, no transportation, there’s no rent control,” she said.
All community donations of coats and toys are welcome, especially for their middle and high school students that are often overlooked. She said monetary donations will go towards buying new shoes, coats, electronics and gift cards.
Parents are always dropping into the center for services, and bags of food are available. Their young students are also accessing online help, as they try to keep things as normal as possible during the difficult season.
The center hosts its regular virtual after school academic help, and some of their most at-risk scholars are coming in for safe in-person tutoring.
With all that’s going on, Xicarra is excited that their center’s executive director, Kim Calvin, will soon be sworn in as Sixth Ward councilmember.
She said Calvin has been in the community, providing local service for a long time, and is ready to start her work in the Sixth Ward.
“We’re all looking forward to Mama Kim going into office. She’s been serving on the front lines, serving her constituents for years. Now she is just doing it in another capacity where she can make a change,” she said.
To get help, or to donate, call (909) 217-7956 or see www.akomaunitycenter.com
For CHAN dates and time, call (760) 241.9900