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Toy story ends happily

More than 3,500 children get a variety of gifts at New Horizons holiday giveaway.

December 20, 2009|By Christopher Cadelago

In a holiday season marked by sharp reductions in toy donations as the number of families seeking assistance rose, the largest toy giveaway in the Glendale-Burbank area didn’t disappoint.

The line outside New Horizons Family Center’s 15th annual toy drive, held Saturday at the organization’s youth center, snaked around the block as dozens of volunteers gave action figures, race cars and board games to more than 3,500 children.

“I got exactly what I wanted,” said Ramon Sanchez, of Burbank, who took home a Razor kick scooter. “Thank you, Santa.”


With the North Pole resident looking on, the 12-year-old’s mother, Rosa Sanchez, waited outside with a stroller brimming with soccer balls, books and markers, an ear-to-ear smile across her face.

“It’s so helpful,” said Rosa Sanchez, 31, who lost a shipping job last month. “I can’t even tell you how many of my worries just vanished.”

Firefighters in the days leading up to the event worried that the cancellation of Metrolink’s Holiday Toy Express, where residents donate hundreds of unwrapped toys for needy families, would leave some families walking away empty-handed.

Glendale firefighters have come to depend on the decorative locomotive to spur toy donations from for the Spark of Love campaign. The loss of the event came as orders for toys tripled, fire officials said.

Toys for Tots, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve program that began more than 60 years ago in Los Angeles, has grown to include 700 cities and towns across the country. So far, a 10% to 15% drop in the number of collected toys looks likely, with corporate cash donations down about $1.5 million below where they were this time last year, the organization reported.

“Particularly with the economy down, there was a genuine concern coming into the event,” said George Perez, president of the New Horizons Family Center’s Board of Directors.

But donations from the Glendale Latino Assn., Citibank and a number of other organizations helped buoy the annual Gifts on the Horizon Toy Giveaway. Porto’s Bakery, Ruth Charles and Glendale Water & Power also pitched in.

Perez stressed that the organization’s deep roots in the community made for an easier time securing support.

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