VENTURA, Calif. -- The Ventura County Fire Department is helping spread the Holiday cheer to many local kids in need thanks to the 25th Annual Spark of Love Toy Drive.
There was a constant flow of cars at The Collection in Oxnard on Wednesday, dropping off toys for kids in need. It's all part of the 25th annual Spark of Love Toy Drive.
“We know this year has been really tough, and we have many kids,” said Brian McGrath from the Ventura County Fire Department. “We are up to 9,000 kids in need that we know of right now.”
As the toys stack up, there was a very special delivery. Jo Ellen Lay and her husband Gary dropped off 150 new stuffed animals.
“After every holiday we go to the store when the stuffed animals are on sale like 50% off 75% off, and we buy all the stuffed animals,” said Lay. “We put them in bags and we drive them to the different fire departments and police departments.”
The Oxnard couple has done this for years and they don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
“You know you give them something like this, and it is just amazing,” said Lay. “It is a life changer.”
For others-- donating keeps traditions alive.
“My dad died of cancer a couple of years ago, and this is something that he started in our family where each Christmas he would donate toys to the children,” said Amy Griffin, who is an Oxnard resident. “We just do it each year in his memory.”
Every toy is sanitized and stored, and eventually sent to 30 nonprofits throughout the county. Organizers are looking for unwrapped toys for children of all ages, including teenagers.
“There are so many places that need help, and I wish we would help everybody in this pandemic personally, but we do what we can,” said Lay.
The next and last drive through toy drop off at the Collection will be Wednesday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Container Store parking lot. Spark of Love will be collecting toy at different locations up until December 24th.
You can see a full list of drop off locations at: https://vcfd.org/spark-of-love-toy-drive/