Placerville Comes Through in Christmas Toys for Tots Drive
It unfortunately rained on our Christmas Parade, canceling one of the most beloved celebrations, officially opening the Christmas season for Placerville and surrounding communities. A Placerville seasonal tradition, children, families and friends line Broadway/Main Street in anticipation of the arrival of Santa Claus. The Placerville Christmas Parade also officially marks the collection of donated new toys for Toys for Tots from parade entrants as well as our communities. The parade inspires a spirit of love, giving love to those who need it most.
Several of us from Marine Corps Det. 697, and volunteers, sat at Starbucks, sipping hot coffee warming us as we looked outside to the downpour, now very worried as to how we were going to find those toys we didn’t collect from the now canceled parade. We were committed to our children, promising every child to receive a Christmas gift of a new toy and with two weeks away until our giveaway at Indian Creek Elementary School; we needed a miracle.
Let’s take the Placerville’s Belltower.
And in a Marine “state of mind,” we agreed. Now it was up to me and us to get the job done. That afternoon, I called city officials, and the Mountain Democrat leaving voice messages as well as e-mailing 100 individuals, anyone I felt could make a difference in getting to “yes.”
By Monday morning I got the call, and we are absolutely thrilled that the City of Placerville agreed. Mastering my talents, as I walked a tight rope between teaching a history lesson on December 7, 1941 (“A Date Which Will Live in Infamy” — FDR) and contacting volunteers to scheduling the Bell Tower event, we had six days until the Belltower event and 13 days until we see our community children, giving each a toy, a gift of love from us (Toys for Tots).
The Mountain Democrat was fantastic and had written another article regarding our plight, urgently needing new toys, then out of nowhere, KCRA3's Leticia Ordaz eagerly wanted to feature us at the Belltower during the Sunday morning local news.
Our Belltower Event was incredible. That Saturday (Dec. 8) and Sunday (Dec. 9) was more than we had anticipated, more than we had ever imagine, more than anyone including the downtown merchants had ever dreamed of. The Spirit of Christmas was alive; our downtown was filled with shoppers, generous individuals stopping by and making a donation, or dropping off a new toy. Our volunteers were enthusiastically warmed by the outpouring of generosity.
There were “mini” parades of sorts, Toys on Rocks stopped by with brand new bicycles; Kacies Ride for Hope and Christian Motorcycle Association rode through downtown to make a toy donation. A family from Loomis saw us on KCRA3 early Sunday morning news, drove to Placerville bringing toys and they spent their afternoon shopping. It was a disappointment to many of us when our Placerville parade was cancelled yet, because of the cancellation, we witnessed the generosity of the City of Placerville and individuals who believed in the true meaning of the joy and giving of Christmas, a message of hope for our most valuable resources — our children.
Monies that were donated to us that weekend, we spent at many of our downtown stores. At one point, a couple of stores sent an employee down offering additional discounts if we came back to shop, and of course we did just that. We heard from many downtown merchants that they loved us. More people were coming into their shops to shop, buying for themselves plus purchasing a toy to donate at the Belltower. Downtown Placerville was Toys for Tots central.
We collected 1,340 brand new toys; we collected and spent nearly $1,800 with our downtown merchants. The Thompson family loaned us their box van for the weekend and it took us three trips to take our toys to Sentry Storage who were gracious to donate a unit to store our toys. Chief Nielsen of the Placerville City Police was appreciative of our efforts because they were able to give children a new toy for Christmas. Placerville Police Department SHIELD helped in our efforts, making much merriment and sharing Christmas cheer. We wanted to thank members for our Marine Corp Det. 687 for volunteering at the Belltower, as well as Placerville Kiwanis and Rotary, Christian Motorcycle Association, American Legion Riders, Doc Wiser and Norm Hammond for their motivating broadcasting dialog during our event, the City of Placerville employee whose golden voice sang traditional Christmas songs, the Broadway Merchant Association, and of course, the merchants of downtown Placerville. You guys rock. We could not have been successful had it not been for downtown Placerville and we want to do this again the weekend after our parade next year.
Finally a special appreciation to Walmart, Rite Aid of Placerville and Riebes of Shingle Springs for their special donations. Each year starting Oct. 1, we start at zero toys and zero donated funds and in 10 weeks, we need at least 12,000 toys as well as donated funds to make our campaign successful. Without this “boost” our efforts would have been more difficult. We can’t thank you enough.
We collected close to 12,000 toys, 34 brand new bikes and we were able to give to 3,000 children (we’re still counting) during our giveaway weekend (Dec. 15-16), we supported these charities, so, they too, could help children for Christmas this year: Placerville Police Department, Placerville’s CHIPS for Kids, St. Patrick’s Church Christmas Giving Tree Project, Birthday Buddies of Georgetown, Christmas on the Divide, Placerville Sheriff and Foster Kids.
All of us together made a difference to our children. Our most valuable resource.
I realize now how important Santa Claus is to our children and after delivering gifts to the homes of the good children during the late evening of Christmas Eve, driving his sleigh by his magical reindeer. Our communities, individuals, community service groups, and merchants made this an extra special Christmas.
Holli and I give each of you a hug of gratitude and appreciation. As with Santa Claus, we are honored to send a message of joy, love and good cheer to our children but to those who made a commitment to make a difference in a child’s life one toy at a time.
I will leave you with my very favorite quote by Charles Dickens: “I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all year.”
SUE AND HOLLI HENDERSON
Coordinators, Toys for Tots
Related Story: http://www.inedc.com/1-3058