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Community goes above and beyond for foster kids' Christmas party

Congregation, businesses donate hundreds of toys for needy children throughout Los Angeles County

Posted: December 16, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 16, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Church members, from left, Maya Argota, Marie Agnello, Taylor Libe, and Brooke Hammer volunteer their time to serve food during the Christmas party at the Boy's and Girl's Club in Canyon Country on Saturday. Courtesy photo by Santa Clarita Church of Christ.

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More than 300 kids under the care of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services cheered as each chose a toy during a weekend Christmas party at the Boys and Girls Club in Canyon Country.

The third annual holiday party, organized by the Santa Clarita Valley Church of Christ on Saturday, offered Christmas gifts, games, food and entertainment on Saturday for many foster care kids and homeless families in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Members of the church presented children of all ages with hundreds of toys, gift cards, clothes and other gifts collected during a toy drive held the previous week. It was the tenth year the church had conducted the toy drive.

Minh Le Orr, the Children’s Services coordinator for Santa Clarita and West San Fernando valleys, was speechless with the quantity of gifts donated.

“This is what moves us,” Le Orr said. “This is what social work is all about. To be here, to see them be able to have a Christmas.

“A lot of these families, they are very needy families and a lot of them may not have Christmas at all if it weren’t for the church.”

Aside from the loads of gifts collected, more than 60 church members volunteered and local businesses donated food for the party. Tonka Toys also provided a truckload of toys for the children.

Jenn O’Connor, a church member, was one of the main organizers of the party and was “overwhelmed” to see the children’s excitement when they picked out their choices of toys.

“It’s fun to watch the kids,” O’Connor said. “It doesn’t take any of the bad away, but it does give them a little hope.”
Volunteer Ivy Thomas has helped with the fundraiser for the past few years and said this year’s was “the biggest one yet.”

Although hundreds of toys and other gifts were available for the kids to choose from, each only picked out just one. The left-over presents will be held by Department of Children and Family Services to give to children in need throughout the year.

For Tamar Thompson, seeing the children she cares for excited about the event was “a blessing.”

“They had a blast,” Thompson said. “One of my girls told me it was the best day of her life.”

Carol Stevenson, another church member, said the church hopes to collect toys again next year for another holiday party.

“It’s a great example of a faith organization, a government organization, the community and local businesses coming together to help these kids,” Stevenson said.

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