Children Delighted as Even More Toys Arrive at Orangewood Home

Times Staff Writer

When 6-year-old Kristen saw the pile of about 300 toys in the courtyard of Orangewood Children’s Home on Friday, she thought Christmas had come early.

Wide-eyed, she ran over to a set of dolls dressed as bride and groom, grabbed it and said, “I want this.”

Kristen and other children staying at the county’s emergency shelter in Orange for abused and abandoned children will have to wait until Christmas to play with the new arrivals. But they won’t have to worry about a toy shortage. Even before the new batch of toys and other gifts arrived, Orangewood already had received donations of about 3,000 toys from community groups, businesses and individuals throughout the county.

“Every year, it’s always kind of overwhelming,” Orangewood director Bob Theemling said.


“You ought to see our gymnasium,” counselor Dean Sutton added. “It looks like Toys-R-Us.” The gymnasium’s 20-by-60 foot attic is stacked to the ceiling with toys.

The 140 or so youngsters will each receive about 10 toys on Christmas morning. The rest will be given throughout the year as birthday presents, rewards for chores and weekly gifts. The children are allowed to take their toys with them when they leave.

Friday’s donation of stuffed animals, balls, bicycles, games and other toys arrived in a rented 25-foot bed truck, a gift from employees and friends of EPAC Development of Costa Mesa. Those toys, including the bride and groom dolls, will not be given as gifts to the children. Instead, they will be kept at the shelter for use by residents, Orangewood officials said.

“We wanted to make a positive difference at Christmas time,” company president Rick Doremus said. “We want to see the smiling faces on the (receiving) end.”


Doremus said he hoped his company’s donation would become part of a permanent collection of toys kept at the center. “It’s really to establish a toy library,” he said.

As the toys were unloaded and displayed in the center’s courtyard, a dozen of the shelter’s 6-year-olds came running out, perusing the pile and picking out favorites.

“Many of these kids never really celebrated Christmas,” Orangewood counselor Bruce Wieseltier said. He explained that many of the 140 kids staying at the center, ranging in age from infants to 18-year-olds, had been abused by their parents or come from broken homes.

“They’ve been bounced around from house to house,” he said.


WHERE TO MAKE HOLIDAY DONATIONS The following organizations are still accepting donations to help the needy on Christmas Day.

Friends in Service to Humanity (FISH)

Those wishing to donate canned goods, non-perishable food, new wrapped toys and money should call the FISH office at (714) 545-0248 to make arrangements.

Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro


New, unwrapped toys for the Toys for Tots program can be donated at city-run fire department stations or the front gate of the Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro. For more information, call (714) 726-2627.

Orange County Rescue Mission

Money, food, toys, clothes and blankets are needed at the mission, 1901 W. Walnut St., Santa Ana, (714) 835-0499.

Salvation Army, Santa Ana office


Donations of canned goods and non-perishable food, new and unwrapped toys, warm clothing and blankets can be taken to 818 E. 3rd St., Santa Ana. For more information, call (714) 542-9576 or (714) 546-7880.

Orangewood Children’s Home

Needs new makeup, earrings, wristwatches, pantyhose, perfume, conditioner and shampoo for teen-age girls, and wallets, sports equipment, shaving cream, jeans and Walkmans for teen-age boys. 401 City Drive South, Orange, (714) 834-7584.