Christmas came a day early for the youth of Shafter, presented with toys from the Toys for Tots organization, thanks to the support of the community. "The Shafter Lions Club used their nonprofit status to get the Toys for Tots organization here, and we secured the building," said Shafter Councilman Gilbert Alvarado, who is also a Lion.
The giveaway event was held on Christmas Eve at the Shafter Veterans Hall. Every child who attended received at least two toys to take home, along with a couple of books or other smaller gifts.
Darlene Doughty, who operates the toy giveaway events for the Toys for Tots of Kern County, said, "We are so excited to hold this event in Shafter, and are so pleasantly surprised with the turnout and the amazing support it has received from the entire community."
Several businesses, organizations and members of the community were also essential in the process of collecting the toys for Shafter's children. Included in this group was Big Dogs Presents and Acelarados Offroad, who put together a Kick Ball tournament recently, with the entry being a toy and also had a collection event and Christmas Parade, involving numerous offroad vehicles and trucks parading the streets of Shafter. They also had members at the giveaway event, including Rafael Zamudio, who was dressed as the Grinch, and his son Rafael, Jr., who took pictures with the kids dressed as Santa Claus.
There were no restrictions on who could receive the toys, with the event open to anyone who wanted to participate. "This was so great. It has been a rough year, and this helps so much to let our kids have a great Christmas," said Richard Knoff, who was there with his two children. "I think that this community is amazing and really cares about each other, especially about the kids."