Local elementary and high schools are assisting the Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Station in its 23rd annual holiday Toy and Food Drive.
Students from local schools have been filling bins with a variety of foods and toys for the sheriff department's drive. The drive has expanded to assist 182 families this year — about 40 families more than during the 2009 holiday season.
The goal of the station's toy and food drive is to provide two baskets filled with food and a $20 gift certificate for a local supermarket to each family. The department also strives to give a minimum of three toys to each child in every family —a total of 457 children.
"It's really a big load for us to have this year," Berg said. "Last year we only had 139 families, but with the economy the way it is, we've had even more families ask to be added to the list. We had to tell them we're just maxed out, we can't do any more."
Joanne Berg, the Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Department food-drive coordinator, said the department receives outstanding support from local schools each year.
"I think it's the way the faculty presents it to the children. They show them they can help people who need help," Berg said, adding that many families the department donates to have no food in the house when the volunteers arrive.
Crescenta Valley High School; La Cañada Preparatory School; the Learning Castle; and Dunsmore, Palm Crest, Monte Vista, Mountain Avenue and La Cañada elementary schools all have held food and toy collection drives to help the department reach as many families as possible.
"We just really wanted the students to help out in the community," said Cristina Diaz, a fifth-grade teacher, student-council leader and coordinator of the food drive at La Cañada Elementary. "We are fortunate enough to live in a privileged area, but it's important for students to realize there are people around here who need help."
Local businesses also help collect food. Community members can drop off food or toys at bins at the Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Station, Ralphs and Vons markets in La Cañada and La Crescenta, the La Cañada Library, the Crescenta-Cañada YMCA and many other local businesses.
Food donations appear to be running on pace, according to Jorge Valdivia, community relations deputy at the CV Sheriff's station. But, he said, o
nly about half the toys needed have been collected so far.
Station volunteers and other local Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies deliver the food and toys door-to-door on Dec. 18.
"It's kind of like playing Santa," Valdivia said. "You walk into a home that doesn't have anything and it's nice to bring them some Christmas cheer."
Food and toys will be collected until the Dec. 18 deadline and beyond. Leftover items are held over for next year. For more information call Valdivia at (818) 236-4021.