The Christmas spirit is alive and well in Turlock — especially among the youth. The continued outpouring of support for the Bradley Pacheco Toy Drive means more toys for kids at local hospitals during the holiday season.
Bradley Pacheco developed meningococcal (spinal) meningitis when he was just five months old and he spent much of the rest of his life in and out of hospitals before passing away on Thanksgiving Day 2007 at eight years old.
Over his short but powerful life he spent several holiday seasons in the hospital with his mother, Lisa Pires and his family. While in the hospital Pires witnessed incredible acts of giving from a family she saw who brought in toys for sick children; it was something that stuck with her.
“It was just so touching to me as a parent that they would go out of their way to do that when no one asked them to. It was so simple but so powerful to me,” said Pires.
Pires, owner of Bronze Body tanning salon in Turlock, began a toy drive for children who remain in local hospitals over the holiday season.
For the past two holidays Pires has used her tanning salon business to promote the toy drive and replicate what had touched her emotions. The first year she collected about 100 toys, and distributed them to kids at local hospitals throughout the Central Valley area. Last year, close to 2,000 toys were donated.
The toy drive is open to the public through Dec.21. Pires requests toys be unwrapped and suitable for children newborn to 18 years old. Indoor toys such as books, DVDs and board games are suggested items.
“Last year we had 1,963 toys donated to 12 different hospitals,” said Pires. “We also had students from Medeiros Elementary make 500 Christmas cards. This year we want to reach a goal of 5,000 toys.”
This year that number will undoubtedly grow — with the partnership of Dutcher and the Turlock Junior High's Builders Clubs. The Builders Clubs are hosting their first community event in honor of Bradley’s Toy Drive at Dutcher Middle School from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 15. Admission is a small toy donation.
“We have a special treat for the entire community,” said Pires. “Dutcher Middle School and TJHS will host its first community event that will include ornament decorating, holiday games, raffle prizes, entertainment music, and pictures with Mr. and Mrs. Claus.”
Pires is happily shocked at 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.