The holiday season is a time for giving and receiving gifts. But, for some underserved children in Orange County, it has the potential to be a season of disappointment instead of joy. Thanks to the Laguna Beach Fire Department’s annual Spark of Love Toy Drive, the area’s kids got the Christmas they deserve.
History of the Spark of Love Toy Drive
2018 marks the 26th consecutive year that the Laguna Beach Fire Department has participated in the Spark of Love Toy Drive.
The toy drive is a partnership between the Southern California Firefighters and ABC7 dedicated to collecting and distributing new toys to the under-served children of Southern California. In addition to Laguna Beach, fire departments in the following counties participate:
- Los Angeles
- San Bernardino
In its quarter-century history, Spark of Love has collected and shared more than 10 million toys with children who might not have had any Christmas gifts without their help.
A Community Effort in Orange County
Donating toys to Spark of Love has become a regular holiday tradition for people living in Orange County. Every year, kids and adults join together to collect toys. Local schools served as collection points for toys and sporting equipment, encouraging kids to participate.
Adults donated toys as well. At holiday events such as Sawdust Winter Fantasy and Hospitality Night, attendees brought gifts for Spark of Love. The gifts were collected and brought to the fire department, which maintains lists of recipients and takes care of distributing the gifts before Christmas.
The toy drive runs for a full month, from November 24th to December 24th. This year, Spark of Love collected more than 400,000 toys that were given to children in need.
Laguna Beach Firefight Paramedic Pat Cary said, “The amount of toys we collected is a testament to this community. We want to sincerely thank everyone who participated for helping us make the holidays happier for thousands of children across Orange County.”
Get Involved in the 2019 Toy Drive
While the bulk of the toys donated to Spark of Love arrive in the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the organization accepts donations year round. Some Orange County residents prefer to give a cash donation instead of shopping for toys.
It might be more traditional to buy toys, but cash donations offer some advantages to the organization. For example, in any given year, Spark of Love may end up with more than enough toys for younger kids and not enough for adolescents and teenagers. Cash donations allow the organizers to fill in the gaps by making purchases with donated funds.
Of course, donated funds also help to defray the overhead costs of collecting and distributing the toys. While firefighters and others donate their time, they still need to pay for related expenses, such as wrapping the gifts.
To learn more about how you can get involved in Spark of Love in 2019, click here.
The Spark of Love Toy Drive is a time-honored tradition. In 2018, donations from local residents helped turn the holidays into a festive celebration for the area’s under-served children – and 2019 will be no different thanks to the generosity of the people of Laguna Beach.