While the headcount was still being tallied, it was estimated that more than 3,000 people attended the Santa Clarita Valley Education Foundation’s inaugural “Touch-A-Truck” event in Central Park on Saturday.
The event has been held before, but this was the first time it was done as a fundraiser for the SCV Education Foundation and the first time it was held since the pandemic – which allowed kids to not just touch, but play in and explore the approximately 30 different vehicles that various local organizations had provided.
Jackie Hartmann, executive director for the SCV Education Foundation, said the money raised at the event will go toward helping students all across the valley.
“We support all five local school districts – so that’s 2,000 teachers, and that’s 55,000 students, and we would love to [support] all of them, but of course with limited funds, you can’t,” said Hartmann. “So the more we raise, the more it goes back into the schools, and it will be to support our ‘Bag of Books’ programs, which puts books in the hands of kindergarteners.”
Hartmann said Bag of Books gives students one book a day, or 120 over the course of the school year, and that funds will also go toward other programs such as one that connects seniors with at-risk middle schoolers who need a little extra help with literacy and comprehension.
“I mean, we’re a small organization, we’ve been here a long time, but today it’s just getting our name out and raising funds to get back into the schools,” said Hartmann.
In addition to the crowd, there were 20 different sponsors and 30 local vendors at the event. Pop-up tents represented a wide variety of local businesses and nonprofits, including selling hand-made goods to advancing awareness of breast cancer or issues facing the veteran community.
As for the trucks, vehicles such as fire trucks, police trucks, and military trucks were provided by a variety of organizations such as the Los Angeles County Fire Department, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, Vietnam Veterans of America, and Guardians SCV.
However, the most popular of them all, and most requested by kids, was the garbage truck provided by Burrtec – which was actually a brand new recycling truck, according to Alex Romo, recycling coordinator for Burrtec.
“It’s fantastic that kids love what we do. I mean, everybody thinks about firemen and cops – and we’re super grateful for the first responders – but it’s also kind of cool that we’re right up there with the fire trucks and the squad cars and stuff like that,” said Romo. “The drivers, the trash drivers and the recycling drivers… get really excited when the kids are out in the morning and they wait for a honk signal and they wave. We love it. We absolutely love it. It makes what we do feel good.”
Former co-chair of Touch-A-Truck and honorary member of this year’s event, city Councilwoman Marsha McLean, said she was very happy to see the event continued by the SCV Education Foundation.
“I was so happy to be at today’s events and I am so grateful for the Education Foundation for taking it over when the Senior Center could not do it any longer,” said McLean. “Today was wonderful. I was so happy to see all the kids and the parents who were also so happy to see it back.”
Damon and Stephanie Cianci, who were waiting in line to see the recycling truck with their 3-year-old, Dylan, said their son loves seeing the truck come to their home each week.
“He’s super excited, this was the only one he wanted to see,” said Damon. “Every Wednesday, he loves to see the garbage truck, picking up the garbage.”
“He stands out the window and waits for the garbage trucks to come,” said Stephanie.
Dylan said his favorite part was seeing the “big claw and it picks up the trash and it dumps it out in the back and then puts it back down.”