The outpouring of support for the Bradley Pacheco Toy Drive proves that the Christmas spirit is alive and well in Turlock — especially among the youth.
Bradley passed away on Thanksgiving Day in 2007 at just eight years old. At five months old he developed spinal meningitis and for the rest of his short life he spent most holidays in hospitals. Two years ago his mother Lisa Pires, owner of Bronze Body tanning salon in Turlock, began a toy drive for children who remain in local hospitals over the holiday season.
Two years ago she collected about 100 toys at Bronze Body. Last year she reached out to Dutcher Middle School’s Builder’s Club for help. They helped triple that number and the toy drive collected about 300 toys.
This holiday season DMS was joined by Turlock Junior High School’s Builder’s Club and Walnut Elementary Education Center students. Between the three schools, along with a powerful community response (400 toys donated at Bronze Body), more than 1,400 toys were collected. Walnut students alone donated more than 600 toys. As if that wasn’t amazing enough, Medeiros Elementary students provided more than 600 hand-written Christmas cards for children in the hospital.
Pires is happily shocked at the number of toys collected and the outpouring of support.
“I really believe on a spiritual level that Bradley has his hands on this. His whole life he touched so many people and taught so many lessons that I think he is still teaching. He is teaching these kids about giving to others,” she said.
Walnut Assistant Principal Robin Swartz said Pires reached out to her for help collecting a small number of toys.
“Originally, it was just supposed to be our leadership kids donating, so I thought we would only get like 15 or 20 presents, but they said ‘no, we’ve got to get the whole school involved in this,’ and in just like the past 10 days we collected all of these toys (600),” she explained.
The toys will be delivered next week to local hospitals such as Emanuel Medical Center, Memorial Medical Center, Doctor’s Medical Center, Children’s Hospital Central California in Madera, Oak Valley Hospital in Oakdale and Mercy Medical Center in Merced.
“There are more toys than kids in hospitals this holiday season, so what hospitals do is they hold on to the excess and give the toys out to kids throughout the year,” said Pires. “Bradley spent a lot of time in hospitals in the Bay Area so I think next year we will have to take toys there too.”
Pires would happily take on the problem next year of having to rent a big rig and deliver toys to hospitals throughout the Central Valley and the Bay Area.
To contact Jonathan McCorkell, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.