Drifters Cocktail Lounge may not allow anyone under 21 to enter the bar, but that doesn’t mean that they’ve forgotten about the kids during the holidays.
On Monday, Santa’s sleigh took the form of a fire engine and utility truck from Los Angeles County Fire Station No. 107 as they pulled into the parking lot in front of Drifters to collect dozens of toys donated by Drifters and VFW Post No. 6885.
This is the 12th year that Drifters has been donating toys during the holidays, a tradition that began with former owner Dennis Marazzito Sr. and was continued by his brother Joe and son Dennis Jr. after he died.
“My brother had been donating toys for almost 20 years, though he officially did it through the bar for about 10,” Joe said. “It was really important to us to keep this tradition alive because it all goes to less fortunate kids or maybe to some families with single parents that can’t afford to buy presents. Sometimes you don’t really know where the donations are going and if the people just keep the toys for their own kids, but with the fire station we know they’re going to kids in need.”
This is the 27th year that the Los Angeles County Fire Department has participated in the Spark of Love program, which collects new, unwrapped toys until Dec. 24 and distributes them to children across Southern California.
“This is my fourth year with Fire Station 107, and every year, Drifters has donated to us,” said Capt. John Rossi. “We’re grateful to be able to be able to put a smile on these kids’ faces and the families are always really grateful. The kids especially like the bikes that Drifters donates because a lot of families are unable to afford bicycles.”
Rossi said the station receives more donations each year as the program continues to grow. He said some of the core values that firefighters hold are caring and community, and that he is proud to see Santa Claritans banding together to help each other during the holiday season.
“We get more donations each year as more people get on board with helping the less fortunate, especially in the light of the homelessness that’s going on,” Rossi said. “I think it’s because people are grateful for what they have and want to share that with the community.”