Though the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many businesses to close once again, the Marazzito family isn’t stopping them from holding their annual toy drives.
Dennis Marazzito, owner of Drifters Cocktails in Canyon Country, and his uncle Joe Marazzito, owner of Sweetwater Bar and Grill in Agua Dulce, are both hosting toy drives at their respective businesses this year to benefit local families in need.
“I’m hoping this year it’ll be a little bit better just because times are a little tighter now — people need it more than they did before,” Dennis said.
“I wasn’t going to let it stop us,” Joe added. “Christmas to me is a very special thing, and we’ve been doing it forever. It’s in our blood.”
The drives are held in honor of Dennis’ father and Joe’s brother, Dennis Senior, who had begun the tradition of hosting toy drives at Drifters prior to his death.
Though just last week restaurants were restricted from offering outdoor dine-in services, both Dennis and Joe chose to stay open for take out and delivery mostly so they could continue the toy drive.
“It’s kind of our duty,” Dennis said. “Everyone’s going through a rough time, but if you can help people, you’ve got to help people.”
Donations must be new, unopened, unwrapped toys valued $10 or more for kids age 0-18, while monetary donations are also accepted.
“If they’re afraid to go to the store — a lot of people are this year — they can donate the cash, and I will go,” Dennis said.
Donations received at Drifters are expected to be donated to L.A. County Fire Station 107, who then distribute the toys to local families, while Sweetwater donations are expected to go to Fire Station 81, as well as to Fostering UNITY, a nonprofit serving the caregivers of the 44,000 foster children in L.A. County.
Donations are expected to be collected until Dec. 20 at Drifters Cocktails, located at 18240 Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country, and Sweetwater Bar and Grill, located at 33310 Agua Dulce Canyon Road in Agua Dulce. Any donation made can get a free drink or appetizer.