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Kids give toys for a cause

Local students donate to ‘Spark of Love’ toy drive

Posted: December 13, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 13, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Fourth, fifth and sixth graders from West Creek Academy pose for a picture with toys they donated to Fire Station Number 156 in Valencia for the 21st annual "Spark of Love" Toy Drive on Thursday. Signal photo by Charlie Kaijo.

About 50 kids from West Creek Academy in Valencia loaded up bags of toys and carried them to Fire Station Number 156 on Thursday to donate them to needy kids as part of a toy drive called “Spark of Love.” 

The drive, sponsored by ABC 7 and Southern California Firefighters, has been held every year since 2004, usually in November and December.

The toys are collected at the fire station and distributed to families receiving help from the Department of Children’s Services, said David Williams, a transportation truck driver of the Heavy Equipment Unit of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

“It feels really good to donate to people in need, other kids who don’t have money or toys,” said Bridget Yang, a sixth-grade student at West Creek Academy.

The collection of kids — fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders — are part of a program called “Strive” at their school where a group of students work on community service projects with both a local and global reach.

Dawna Countryman, a sixth-grade teacher at West Creek Academy, said the students learn to organize and run charity events.

“The Strive pathway is a leadership pathway,” she said. “The kids come with ideas. They do the research, and they organize the logistics of the event.”

“We watched CNN student news to know what was going on in our community and the whole world,” added sixth-grader Skye Hanamaikai.

For the past two weeks the students prepared for the event by putting out posters at their school, sending out fliers and broadcasting the toy drive as well as physically putting the toys in bags and delivering them to the fire station.

Hanamaikai said students begin participating in the Strive program at school during the fourth grade.

“I liked the difference it makes and how positively it can impact other people’s word,” she said about her experience with the toy drive.

The program is meant to be both a learning experience for the kids and a lesson about giving. Kids get to see how to be charitable while learning leadership skills.

“Kids could have the physical feeling of taking a toy and bringing it to the fire station. They will be part of the PTA someday. They’re future leaders. PTA is one part of representing leadership to them”, said Kristen Hanamaikai, Skye’s mother and president of the Parent-Teacher Association.


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