Riverside, CA – On December 16th a caravan of 9 American Medical Response (AMR) ambulances delivered over 6,100 toys to Catholic Charities. The toys, which were collected by AMR through Marine Toys for Tots, were processed, bagged and given out to over 550 pre-registered low-income families.
Upon arrival, AMR employees and Catholic Charities’ volunteers quickly formed a chain, unloaded the overflowing bags of new toys, and divided them into piles according to gender and age. The toys that were generously donated included skateboards, art kits, board games, coloring books, and learning games.
This is the fifth year that Catholic Charities has been selected by Toys for Tots to help distribute toys to low-income families throughout Riverside County. Over the years, the number of toys donated has nearly double providing Catholic Charities with the opportunity to bring Christmas to a larger number of families.
“I’m so grateful that we are able to bring Christmas to families in need,” said Belinda Marquez, Director of Catholic Charities’ Family and Community Services. “I love seeing the children light up when they get to pick out their toys, and the parents couldn’t be more thankful. We’re extremely grateful for this opportunity. I can only hope that next year we’re able to help even more families.”
Along with the help of AMR, Smokey Siket, a United States Marine Corps veteran and volunteer for Toys for Tots, has been vital to the work of Catholic Charities. For the past five years, Siket has donated his time by driving to different locations all over the Riverside County and picking up donation boxes full of toys for Catholic Charities. Siket has been a volunteer for Toys for Tots for 20 years.
“We are extremely grateful for our ongoing partnership with Marine Toys for Tots and AMR and for their dedication to helping the lives of those most in need. Each year, we are able to bring joy to hundreds of low-income families. This would not be possible without the generosity of our partners,” said Ken F. Sawa, Catholic Charities’ CEO and Executive Vice President.
Catholic Charities San Bernardino and Riverside Counties is a 501(c) 3 public benefit corporation, which assists families in need regardless of religious affiliation. Catholic Charities provides compassionate social services that respond to the suffering of the vulnerable and those in crisis in our local communities. Services are provided in a culturally relevant manner and are based on individual/family needs and vary from prevention-based to crisis-based. It is Catholic Charities’ experience that by alleviating the immediate suffering of others, families are then empowered to move toward a more hopeful future for themselves and their children.