The Optimist Club of Canyon County held a drive to collect toys for the Spark of Love Toy Drive and nonperishable food items for Santa Clarita Grocery at the Westfield Valencia Town Center Saturday.
Positioned directly across the street from Los Angeles County Fire Station 126, the club aimed to collect as many toys as possible, which were donated to the Fire Station, one of many sponsors for the annual toy drive.
The nonperishable food items are now set to be collected, packed and sent to Santa Clarita Grocery, a local food bank that told the club it had a high demand this year, according to Optimist Club member Jim Oliver.
“We really try to give back to the community as much as we can,” Oliver said. “Money is tight right now, so we wanted to get creative — since we’d usually just write checks to these organizations. The challenge we had was trying to figure out how to collect toys and food to donate.”
People were able to drive up and drop off toys, food or both during the drive. Oliver said this was not only a way to collect needed items for charity, but also a way to raise awareness about the Optimist Club, which he says has been an established club across the nation for decades.
The club is affiliated with Optimist International, an organization made up of volunteers to aim to “bring out the best in children, in their communities, and in themselves,” according to the club’s website.
The Spark of Love Toy Drive has collected unwrapped gifts for the last 28 years for the holidays, which are donated to children across many counties in Southern California. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, toys are collected and sanitized before being distributed to children.
“If everything goes well, this will be something the club can do annually, since we know the ropes about getting everything prepared,” Oliver said.
Donations to the Spark of Love Toy Drive can be done virtually this year via the organization’s website: myregistry.com/giftlist/sparkoflove.
Nonperishable food items can be donated to SCV Grocery, located at 21176 Centre Pointe Parkway, Suite 300, in Santa Clarita.