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Starbucks toy drive to benefit foster youth

POSTED December 4, 2012 10:21 p.m.

Starbucks is hoping to make the holidays a little bit brighter for area foster youths.

Aspiranet, one of the largest nonprofit social service agencies in California, is partnering with Starbucks to promote the “Help Make the Holidays Shine” toy drive.

Last year, Starbucks staff and customers donated more than 3,500 gifts, which allowed Aspiranet social workers a chance to deliver age-appropriate gifts for foster youth between the ages of 5 and 17 to thousands of children in California.

Aspiranet communications director Stacey Fehr said the goal this year is to collect 4,000 presents. The goal just may be achieved thanks to more Starbucks locations adding their assistance.

“I believe we have 270 stores taking part. It is a great partnership. They have been very kind and generous in partnering with us,” Fehr said of the four year relationship between both organizations.

Customers and staff members can continue their support this year by choosing wish lists submitted by the children at most Starbucks locations within Stanislaus County. Unwrapped gifts should be returned to the store location with the original gift tag to assign the item to the right child.

Fehr said any support is welcomed, but children between the ages of 9-18 years of age are often overlooked.

“We collect gifts for all ages, and that is good. But people only think of gifts for younger children. It would be nice to get the older kids involved too,” she said.

According to Starbucks supervisor Alyssa Castro, the children’s wish list tags are to be dispersed to the public today on decorations within the store, most notably the tree. The Christmas atmosphere and wish list tags on the tree are located next to the bar to capture almost all customers’ attention.

“The majority of customers have a question about it. Half actually participate. Some who do this every year have already bought a present and are coming in a week to get a new one,” said Castro. “We know it is a success.”

Castro is interested in keeping the entire program going for years to come, and believes that the holiday spirit brings out the best in people.

“It is like a whole new store,” she said.

A list of participating Starbucks locations can be found at: http://aspiranetheroes.org/giftdrive.

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