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Postmaster continues to deliver joy

SCV’s top mailman, Bob Swanson, gives toys to thousands of foster kids

Posted: December 17, 2009 10:19 p.m.
Updated: December 18, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Local Postmaster Bob Swanson started a holiday tradition of uniting post offices in a toy drive for foster kids in the San Fernando Valley.

To the residents of Santa Clarita Valley, Bob Swanson is the postmaster.

But to more than 2,000 foster children throughout Los Angeles County, he’s Santa Claus.

A caravan of 20 United States Postal Service trucks made its annual holiday delivery of specially requested toys Wednesday to the San Fernando Valley and Chatsworth offices of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.

It’s an annual tradition that Swanson initiated 13 years ago.

“He’s been our savior for Christmas,” said Lovette Panthier, supervising children’s social worker for Child and Family services.

“Without him, we wouldn’t have these toys for our kids for the holiday season. He has a love for our kids.”

The 2,500 gifts were purchased by postal workers from over 25 USPS offices in the Santa Clarita Valley, San Gabriel and San Fernando Valley areas.

The idea came about when Swanson, of Woodland Hills, was a station manager in North Hollywood.  

“I’ve known some children that have gone through the system,” he said. “I’ve had nieces and nephews go through the system.”

“I knew the trauma that can be related to it,” he added.

Swanson thought there was probably a good possibility that not all foster kids in the county received a holiday toy, and a social worker confirmed he was correct.

“She told me some of the kids do not get gifts because they don’t have enough donors,” Swanson said.

That year, North Hollywood offices purchased 350 gifts for foster youth. Then, Swanson decided to branch out.

“Each year it grew,” he said. “Now we’re probably about 25 offices.”

Three years ago, Swanson became the SCV’s postmaster and brought all five local post offices into the effort.

“(The employees) love it,” he said.

Employees often buy more than one present, Swanson said.

When the kids received their gifts Wednesday, Swanson said their faces lit up.

“There is nothing permanent about their environment,” he said. “The gift is something that helps them through turbulent times.”  


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