The Turlock Post Office is no stranger to organizing charitable drives for community members in need, and once again employees are collecting toys for the 18th annual Gifts for Kids program.
Every year, the Post Office facilitates two drives: a food drive in the spring, and the annual toy drive near the holidays. Nearly 20 years ago, Gifts for Kids organizer and mail carrier Rosalinda Rojas had an idea for a way to provide less-fortunate children in Turlock with toys for Christmas.
“We had always done the food drive, and I thought, ‘Wow, if we could just do this with toys for the kids, that would be great,’” said Rojas.
The Gifts for Kids program was born, and since its inception has provided nearly 2,000 toys for children annually in Turlock.
Through the end of this week, mail carriers throughout the city will be picking up new, unwrapped toys left in or near mailboxes to benefit school-aged children selected by their teachers. Toys may also be dropped off in the Post Office lobby during regular business hours, where a box is designated for the donations.
“It’s amazing to me how the people of Turlock embrace this every year,” said Rojas, who added that the lobby’s box for donations often has to be emptied twice a day to make room for more toys. “There are kids out there that go without a toy, and this community steps up to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
One specific family has given to the toy drive for years, said Rojas, and their donations go above and beyond. During last year’s Gifts for Kids program, the family donated five bicycles and three bags of toys, and this year they plan to up the ante, donating 10 bicycles and even more toys.
“This is such a giving community, and I just want them to know how thankful we are,” said Rojas. “To some people it may just seem like one toy, but that one toy matters to the child who otherwise wouldn’t have one.”
After all of the toy donations are collected, Rojas and another mail carrier will dress as Mr. and Mrs. Claus to deliver them to the children. Holiday cheer is in full swing at the Post Office, where children can also mail their letters to Santa.
“Some of these letters…they melt your heart,” said Rojas.
Toys for the Gifts for Kids program will be picked up until Dec. 10, and may also be dropped off at the Post Office, 555 E. Main St.