To the generous Natomas residents who donated more than 600 toys for NUSD’s Holiday Toy Giveaway, Sylvia’s family is one of many you helped – and she thanks you.
Sylvia, mother of three, sent money to help her kids’ daddy come to Sacramento this holiday season, but he hasn’t come – and now she’s broke, no money for gifts.
“It was going to be a really bad Christmas until my mother told me about this,” she said of NUSD’s Toy Giveaway on Friday, Dec. 16. She walked away with a book for her 15-year-old and toys for her 3- and 4-year-old.
“It makes a huge difference,” she said simply, adding that she was fighting tears as she talked about the giveaway.
Another mother, Tish, said she too was looking at empty stockings for the holiday – but “now they get something, instead of nothing.”
Table after table were lined with toys for the giveway at Joey’s Food Locker on the Natomas High campus.
Barbie dolls, footballs, tattoo jewelry, crayons, books, a Drop ‘n’ Go Dump Truck, stuffed animals, remote-controlled cars, Smithsonian Magic Rocks, memory matching game, Spiderman figure, Tin Can Robot – the list goes on and on, something for all ages.
Kids were allowed inside the classroom-turned-toyland in small groups, for several minutes, to pick out any toy they desired.
“It’s cool, it’s colorful, it looks fun,” Marilena, 11, said of the gift she picked out.
Emilio, 11, liked his bounty, too. “It’s awesome.”
NUSD Trustee Teri Burns said the toy giveaway sent a message to kids that will resonate long after the holiday season: They’re loved. School isn’t just a place to learn reading and writing, it’s a place they can count on for support.
“This is community building,” she said. “When kids feel safe and loved in school, they do better in school.”
“We’re about the whole child,” added Amreek Singh, an NUSD administrator who organized the toy drive. “We’re about families, we’re about community … And we couldn’t do this without the generosity of the people of this community. They’re amazing.”
Many of the guest families also picked up canned goods and holiday meats – ham or turkey, while they lasted – at Joey’s Food Locker, which distributes free groceries once a month to more than 170 residents in need.
For the toy giveaway, Dec. 16, more than a dozen Natomas High leadership students donated their time to wish kids a happy holiday and help them pick out a present.
“I came from a lower-income family, so I know what it’s like not to have money for gifts,” said Angel, one of the teen volunteers. “It’s great to give back.”