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SoCal toy drives: Where to donate and how to participate

Two women dressed in holiday clothes walk children's bikes to a donation center.
L.A. County employees Jeanette Orozco, center, and Jessica Castillo help bring toys delivered by U.S. Postal Service trucks to the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services office in Van Nuys in December 2020.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)
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It’s gift giving season, and you’ve probably made your list of family and friends to shop for and what to buy them.

As you’re making your way through that list, though, you might consider adding one more person: a child or family in need.

Every holiday season, organizations large and small hold toy drives to collect donations of new and unwrapped toys for children of all ages, distributing them to kids on or before Christmas.

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There are plenty of ways to get involved in one of these charity events. For example, you’ve probably seen a large box bearing the logo of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots program at participating stores, or a Salvation Army “Angel” tree at your local Walmart, or a donation bin for the “CHiPs for Kids” drive at a California Highway Patrol office. The gifts collected in these larger efforts will go to children in Southern California and, in some cases, other parts of the United States.

Local organizations are also collecting donated toys that will go directly to youths in the community. There’s still time to add a toy to your gift list. Here are a number of community events where toys will be given out and local organizations that are having toy drives.

Local toy giveaways

Chinatown
MásForMore and Production Club are hosting their third annual toy giveaway Dec. 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Attendees can expect a live DJ, a breezeway with cut-out cartoons, plant-based food, a snow machine, a photo opportunity with Santa and more. Children 3 months to 16 years old are eligible for a free toy and a book (in English, Spanish or Chinese). Toys will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last. The toys are all hand-selected by Production Club staff, and this year’s haul includes Razor scooters, mini pianos, STEM toys, Tamagotchis, Roblox toys, sports gear and more. The event will take place at the Production Club HQ at 1726 N Spring St., Unit 1 in Los Angeles.

Compton
Santa will be dropping off a stash of toys for children on Saturday, Dec.10, at the Buffalo Spot in Compton for the 6th Annual Toy Giveaway. Beginning at 9 a.m., children of all ages can receive one free toy while supplies last. A child must be present to receive a toy.

The event will take place at 961 S. Long Beach Blvd. in Compton, and it will last until all toys are handed out.

Montecito Heights
The Sycamore Park Foursquare Church is hosting a holiday drive-through event Dec. 10 at 10:30 a.m. Food and gifts will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last. Families present are eligible for groceries, toys, goodie bags for kids, diapers, baby clothes, baby formula and treats. Children must be present to receive toys and goodie bags.

The church is at 4328 N. Figueroa St. in Los Angeles.

Inglewood
Inglewood City Councilwoman Dionne Faulk is hosting a Christmas Toy Giveaway on Dec. 10 from 10 a.m. to noon. The event is for the residents of the Darby-Dixon community only. Residents who want to participate need to register with the councilwoman’s office ahead of the event by calling 310-412-8605. The giveaway will be at 3215 Bartdon Ave. in Inglewood. Individuals who did not register ahead of the event will not be eligible for a toy.

WIN Los Angeles, the Inglewood Southside Christian Church and God Saves World Mission are hosting a toy giveaway Dec. 10 from 9 a.m. to noon. The family event is first come, first served. Families are welcome to either walk up or drive up to the event, where they can receive a free toy, food, diapers, baby wipes and other items while supplies last. The event will take place at the Inglewood Southside Christian Church, 3937 W. 104th St. in Inglewood. For more information, call (424) 209-8843. This giveaway is still accepting toy donations.

Huntington Park
Residents of Huntington Park are invited to the Winter Wonderland Toy Drive on Dec. 10 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The community event, sponsored by AltaMed, KLVE 107.5 FM and other local medical agencies and broadcasters, will include a toy giveaway, an artificial ice rink and free haircuts. The event will also include other children’s activities, health screenings, COVID-19 vaccinations and food box distributions. The event will take place at 3401 E. Florence Ave. in Huntington Park.

Pacoima
The Khalsa Care Foundation is hosting its annual Drive-Thru Holiday Giveaway on Dec. 10 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at 9989 Laurel Canyon Blvd. in Pacoima. To participate, drive up (one family per car) to the place of worship, wear masks and practice social distancing — walk-ins will not be accepted. Giveaway items include food bags, blankets, jackets, socks, gloves, beanies, soccer balls and other toys.

Lancaster
On Saturday, Dec. 17, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Antelope Valley residents can participate in a holiday drive-through giveaway. While supplies last, individuals can drive up to the Antelope Valley Transit Authority at 42210 6th St. in West Lancaster to receive holiday meal supplies, groceries and toys.

Where to donate locally

Compton
For its 2nd Annual Winter Wonderland Toy Drive, the Compton community is collecting toys for children ages 5 through 12 on Dec. 10 from 1 to 4 p.m. The event — hosted by Straight Building Compton and Pizza Studio in partnership with the city of Compton — will have music, food, family activities, pony rides, a petting zoo and a gaming truck.

You can donate toys at the event or at these locations in Compton:

  • Compton City Hall, 205 S. Willowbrook Ave.
  • Grocery Outlet, 2175 Rosecrans Ave.
  • Pizza Studio, 1759 S. Alameda St.
  • Home Depot, 101 Towne Center Drive

Sherman Oaks
The Sherman Oaks Homeowners Assn. is collecting toys that will be distributed by the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services to more than 70,000 children in need within the county. You can participate by dropping off a new toy on Dec. 11 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Gelson’s Market, 4520 Van Nuys Blvd. in Sherman Oaks.

The association has age-appropriate toy recommendations that include:

  • Infant to 5 years old: stuffed animals, pull toys and building blocks.
  • 6 to 10 years old: dolls, trucks, action figures, Play-Doh, puzzles and books.
  • 11 to 12 years old: watches, radios, board games, computer games, jewelry, music and books.

If you don’t have time to grab a gift, the association will accept gift certificates for all ages.

MacArthur Park and Lancaster
Friends of the Children Los Angeles, locally known as Friends LA, is part of a national network of Friends of the Children chapters across the U.S. that link children affected by the child welfare system to a mentor who’s also their advocate.

The local chapter is hosting its annual holiday drive and gift distribution event. This year Friends LA has a goal of collecting 1,000 gifts for the youths they serve and their families. They are looking to collect new and unwrapped toys or clothing for children ages 6 months to 18 years. They also are looking for gift cards and grocery gift cards for caregivers. The organization is accepting donations until Dec. 12.

Los Angeles residents can drop off donations at 672 S. Lafayette Park Place, Suite 33 in Los Angeles. Antelope Valley residents can bring their donations to 539 W. Lancaster Blvd. in Lancaster.

Arcadia
The Downtown Arcadia Improvement Assn. is hosting a Holiday Fair for the Arcadia community Dec. 10 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. On First Avenue from Huntington Avenue to Diamond Street, the community will be feted with food, shopping booths, live music and more.

The association asks that participants bring a new toy (a book or a game) for the event’s toy drive, which will be collecting gifts near where Santa will be making a guest appearance. The toys will later be distributed by the Foothill Unity Center.

La Habra
The city of La Habra is hosting its Holiday Wishes Program, which supports children, families and seniors who face challenging circumstances during the holiday season. The city is looking for new and unwrapped toys for children ages 2 to 16. The suggested items include board games, puzzles, books and word search or crossword puzzles.

Donations may be delivered through Dec. 13 to the La Habra Community Center, 101 W. La Habra Blvd. You can make a donation Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Commerce
South Bay Pop Ups and South Bay Cruise Nights are holding their first annual toy drive along with a car and bike show. The family event will feature music, vendors, a raffle and more.

Admission is free with a new and unwrapped toy, which will be given to community organizations such as the Local Hearts Foundation, Mission Echo and local community shelters.

The event will be held Dec. 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 6023 Garfield Ave. in Commerce.

Other giving opportunities

The Victim’s Assistance Fund
The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Victim’s Assistance Fund is holding its annual Holiday Giving Drive, which provides toys, bikes, gift certificates and other gifts to hundreds of families that have been victims of violent crime. You can support the program by donating online or by mailing a check to the California Community Foundation, 717 W. Temple St., Los Angeles, CA 90012.

Aviva Family and Children’s Services
Aviva, a nonprofit that provides mental health services and other support to at-risk youth and families, is sponsoring its 22nd annual holiday giving program. To help, you can make a financial donation online that the nonprofit will use to pick out gifts for its clients. Or you can buy a gift from Aviva’s shopping list, which includes toys, clothing and family essentials. But you’ll need to hurry — gifts need to be dropped off by Friday at 4:30 p.m. at 1783 El Cerrito Place in Los Angeles.

Spark of Love
The Spark of Love Toy Drive — a joint effort by ABC7, Southern California firefighters and Toys for Tots — is collecting new, unwrapped toys and sports equipment at local fire stations and Subaru dealerships. You can also make a monetary donation online or by mailing a check to the LAFD Foundation at the Frank Hotchkin Memorial Training Center, 1700 Stadium Way #100, Los Angeles, CA 90012. (Make your check out to LAFD Foundation and write “Spark of Love” in the memo line.)

Proceeds will go to buying toys and sports equipment for children and teens in need.

You can also drop off new toys during the program’s Stuff a Bus toy collection event. The bus will be at the following locations:

  • Westfield Topanga, 6600 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Canoga Park, on Dec. 9 from 4:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
  • Los Cerritos Center, 239 Cerritos Center, Cerritos, on Dec. 9 from 4:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
  • Red Robin Restaurant, 390 Bristol St., Santa Ana, on Dec. 16 from 4 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

The toys collected will be sent to Spark of Love Toy Central at the Los Angeles Fire Department, where they will be sanitized, sorted and distributed evenly to families in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange, Ventura and Riverside counties. The toy drive will run until Dec. 24.

BlackNLA
For its 19th annual toy drive, BlackNLA — an organization that promotes awareness of Black-owned businesses and events in the Los Angeles area — is collecting gifts for Drew Child Development Corp. and the Heads Up Foundation.

BlackNLA has posted Amazon and Target wishlists of toys and other items that can be purchased for at-risk families. The organization has enlisted 10 small businesses in Los Angeles, Torrance, Carson and Inglewood to accept donations, but only through Dec. 9.

If you don’t have time to shop, BlackNLA is accepting monetary donations online that it will use to shop for the presents.

For more information including how to get your new toys to the organization, send an email to toydrive@blacknla.com or visit blacknla.com/toydrive.

Crime Survivors Resource Center
The Crime Survivors Resource Center is accepting toy donations for the Christmas season. The agency is collecting toys for infants and children up to age 13 as well as stuffed animals, blankets, gift cards, movie passes and monetary donations.

Toys can be donated by calling (844) 853-4673 or giving a gift at participating Boomers Parks, Albertsons and Irvine Lanes. Call ahead to make sure that the location near you is participating in the effort.

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This article is from The Times’ Utility Journalism Team. Our mission is to be essential to the lives of Southern Californians by publishing information that solves problems, answers questions and helps with decision making. We serve audiences in and around Los Angeles — including current Times subscribers and diverse communities that haven’t historically had their needs met by our coverage.

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