GONZALES — Gonzales Youth Guardians passed out toys to children on Christmas Eve, lighting up the holiday season for those in need.
This was the first year the group has handed out toys, and is planned to be an annual tradition in the future.
“We had a desire to do good in the community of Gonzales and were excited to do that,” said Jean Salcido, president of the Youth Guardians, of the event.
More than 400 toys were given away to local children in need. The organization needed approval — from collecting the toys, to handing them out, to figuring out host locations — but they had it all ready within a short time.
“It was all accomplished in an amazing three days,” Salcido said. “We worked tirelessly to coordinate the logistics between donors, volunteers and hosting. We put it all together in the nick of time.”
Members of the Youth Guardians had to drive a truck and trailer to San Jose to pick up toys and have them ready by the Monday before Christmas Eve. Then, they had to work with local agencies to get names of children who could use a free toy. With Christmas being on a Wednesday, the group had Christmas Eve on a Tuesday to hand out the toys.
Salcido said the community’s help was key to being able to organize the event on time, with volunteer help coming from both Gonzales and Soledad. A total of 17 volunteers helped out.
“My focus was trying to seek out single mothers who have children because it’s very hard to get them toys,” Salcido said. “We were able to connect with the schools.”
She also knew of families she had worked with in the past. There was also help from word of mouth.
“It’s always good to give to those without,” Salcido said. “By giving, we receive a blessing in return for blessing someone else.”