As the holidays approach, the season of giving has begun with toy and food drives popping up throughout Santa Barbara. While receiving gifts from loved ones is important, taking the time to give back to others is a great way to spread holiday cheer. Toys for Tots is one of the main toy drives here in Santa Barbara and it is easily accessible for all to donate.
All fire stations in Santa Barbara have put up red and white boxes used to collect toys and canned goods. Volunteers then help by the donations to local Unity Shoppe’s. There, the canned goods and toys are stocked like a store so families can shop without cost. This way, they can pick out groceries to their preference. These donations go to children in need and families that are identified as in need of help and resources.
Firefighter Thomas Churpek from Station Number 6 on the Mesa explained how this is a drive bigger than Santa Barbara, and can be seen statewide, and even in other states. He adds, “LA area fire departments do it as well, but here our volunteers come to pick up the boxes every couple days and take them to the distribution center.” Their job is to accept toys, put out the boxes, and encourage donations.
Students at Santa Barbara High School are encouraged to donate and many have before. Two seniors at SBHS, Isabella Warren and Charlotte Ryan spoke about their experiences on donating to the toy and food drive. Charlotte says, “I feel grateful to be able to help people in need and it makes me happy to know I’m making a difference in someone’s life for the better.” She is inspired and believes the world is becoming a better place for people in need.
“It is such a rewarding feeling to donate, and I feel like it is an amazing organization for helping kids and people in need.” said Warren. They both agree that it is wonderful to see so many people donating and organizing events like this.
The toy and food drive is open now until December 15th so make sure to contribute and help others have a wonderful holiday season.