Jimmy Garcia vividly remembers last year’s Coachella Valley Rescue Mission toy drive. “I got a big remote control car and a little one. It was pretty cool.” The CVRM is at it again. The annual drive is one of the many outreach programs the organization serves in the area and has collected over 15,000 unwrapped gifts throughout the Coachella Valley.
The number is actually down from last year, but the goal on Saturday at 8am remains the same: make every child’s holiday the best it could be. “The children that come to our event will hold onto a doll, or the bear, or truck that they get like you just gave them a bar of gold,” said CVRM executive director Darla Burkett. “It’s the best thing. They’re the most grateful children, the most grateful families, and we are just so blessed to be a part of them and be here for them.”
On Saturday morning, the CVRM’s empty gymnasium will be turned into Santa’s workshop, filled with thousands of toys for under-served kids in the Coachella Valley. Children will be greeted at the door by jolly ol’ Saint Nick and then selected at random for a brand new or refurbished bicycle. The lines outside the building started to form around 3am Friday morning and officials expect the line to wrap around the block by the time the event starts. Families, like Adelita Cavazos, planned to camp out overnight in the cold just to make sure their kids get something special. “You know, it’s hard for them to get something they desire Santa Claus to give them and they didn’t get to get because they’re hard times.”
And the organization is still accepting unwrapped gifts for their Christmas Eve and Christmas day giveaway. For those who can afford to donate, do it. It could make a child’s dream come true.