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Helping Bring Christmas to Needy Children PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alex Garcia   
Thursday, 06 December 2012 03:05

Hundreds Wrap Toys to Distribute Them Throughout Los Angele

ALEX GARCIA/SFVS

Hundreds of people recently transformed a Sylmar warehouse into Santa's workshop and themselves into elves, wrapping hundreds of small teddy bears destined for needy children throughout Los Angeles.

As Christmas music pumped through speakers, row after row of volunteers cut, wrapped and taped the gifts as part of the annual Children's Hunger Fund (CHF) toy wrap. For the past 21 years, the nonprofit Christian organization that distributes food to needy people around the world and the United States puts on the event as they try to deliver Christmas cheer to children in some of the poorest communities around Los Angeles.

Among this year's volunteers was Sun Valley resident Eduardo Ramirez, who joined the crowd on a cold, stormy night along with his 11-year-old son Eduardo Ramirez Jr. "I think they're doing something very good," said Ramirez, a first time participant. He said he brought his son to show him that, "Sometimes kids ask for this and that, but there are many children who appreciate something small." "I hope more people did this," added Ramirez.

Eduardo Jr. seemed to clearly grasp this ideal. "I think they're [the children] are going to enjoy this a lot," the youngster said. In total, approximately 2,500 volunteers showed up on Thursday, Nov. 29, for the first day of a three-day effort to wrap as many as 75,000 plush toys donated by Ty, Inc. Finding volunteers to help in the effort is not a problem, said CHF spokesperson Janea Beakley.

"People want to help and they just need a way to do it," she said.

CHF president Dave Phillips started the toy wrapping tradition in his garage with a few of his friends and family in December 1991, Beakley said. From there, it has grown every year.

"We want to unite families, businesses, and individuals in the community to give hope to children who are suffering in poverty," said Phillips, in a press release.

"Twenty years ago we had a few volunteers wrapping toys at one table," Phillips added. "Now, we are hosting four Toy Wraps in LA and several others in locations across the nation. It's astounding."

Once the toys are individually wrapped, they are distributed to about 150 different churches in Los Angeles, that in turn give the gifts to needy children in their areas.

Rosa Vivas, a second-year volunteer from Santa Clarita, knows first hand the effect the toys have on the children who receive them.

"It's a small gift, but its significance is enormous," she said, noting that last year she was one of the persons in her church to help distribute the toys to the kids.

"It was the biggest smile I had ever seen," she recalled of the children receiving and opening the toys.

"We hope each volunteer understands how blessed we are living here, and all the things we have, and understand the great need that exists," said Guillermo Marquez, director of Relationship with West Coast Churches for CHF.

That's why the Peterson family from Simi Valley brought their seven kids here with them, including four-year-old Abel Navarro, who was busy wrapping the teddy bears, albeit with a little help from mom Sara.

"I think I want my kids to know that something they're doing is helping bring a little Christmas joy to a child who needs it," said Sara.

"This is the true meaning of Christmas," chimed in Luke, her husband.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 06 December 2012 03:13