Staff Council raises holiday spirit with annual toy drive

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas as Cal Poly Pomona’s Staff Council members are taking over as Santa’s helpers and partnering with the Pomona Police Department for its annual Santa Cop Toy Drive on Dec. 2, where the campus community is invited to participate and donate in the contactless event.

The toy drive aims to help local residents facing financial hardships, while building a stronger relationship between CPP, the Pomona Police Department and Pomona residents, according to April Jimenez, the event’s donor relations and stewardship coordinator. Community events like the Santa Cop Toy Drive have assisted more than 300 families annually in prior years.

“We wanted to organize something because we feel that people are going to be more in need this year, so we wanted to continue that as a community service project,” said Jimenez.

After collecting the toys at CPP, the items will be sent to the Pomona Police Department for distribution to families in need. The event intends to provide financial relief to parents and joy to the children.

Fifth-year marketing student Kelly Garcia has experienced first-hand the relief low-income families experience during toy drives. Garcia shared her experience volunteering for similar events, which brought joy to her and other families.

“My father is a volunteer firefighter, and we donated toys to his fire station,” Garcia said. “From there, they distributed them to a lot of kids in need or kids that just weren’t fortunate to receive any gifts. I felt really happy that I was able to do something and put a smile on someone’s face.”

Former Staff Council member Bernadette Jeffries participated in the 2013 toy drive, gathering and organizing stuffed animals. (Courtesy of Staff Council)

In previous years, the event was more hands-on and attracted a large number of volunteers. However, due to the pandemic, new safety protocols will be in place. The Staff Council will only keep a minimal number of workers and eliminate volunteering positions. Participants are also expected to wear face masks, take the required on-campus health screening test and remain in their cars when donating items.

When arriving at the donation center located at the roundabout near the Student Services Building, donations will be collected by an assistant. Large items that do not fit through a car window can be placed in the trunk of the car, where a worker can remove the item.

Despite the many safety regulations in place, Marcela Moreno, the media and records representative for the Staff Council, expects the event to go smoothly. The one concern is the estimated involvement. In the past year, around 100 participated in the event but this year about 50 people have signed up.

Nonetheless, the Staff Council is excited to serve the people of Pomona and continue to build a relationship with the surrounding community.

“I hope people get the opportunity to donate,” said Moreno, “This year has brought many hardships for many families. For those who are able to donate, I know they will be helping out the families and hopefully bring some cheer. Cal Poly Pomona is about community. COVID or not, I am thankful we as a community always help each other.”

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