It's that time of year when the Wasco Toys for Tigers share the spirit of giving. Since 2002, this dedicated group has been making a difference in the lives of children in need by spreading joy through their annual Christmas initiatives.
At the core of their mission is the distribution of toys to over 1,000 children in Wasco who are facing economic hardship.
"Our goal is to spread holiday cheer for as many kids as possible.," said Board Treasurer Pat Ketcherside. "Every family deserves a special Christmas, and we try to make that happen."
Children up to 12 receive a toy appropriate for their age, costing $25 to $30 each. Every family gets a book and a ball.
It's a gesture that goes beyond material value but conveys a message of warmth, hope and celebration.
The organization is a nonprofit and relies on generous donations from the community. They spend over $20,000 yearly on toys.
Many volunteers also play a significant role in ensuring the Christmas toy giveaway runs smoothly. "We get volunteers from local churches, students and community members," Ketcherside said.
The toy distribution event will be held on Saturday, Dec. 9, from 1 to 4 p.m. at Grace Community Church.
Another tradition for the Wasco Toys for Tigers is their Christmas Tree Extravaganza, which will take place this year on Monday, Dec. 4, at the Veteran's Hall at Barker Park from 6 to 8 p.m. A highlight will be a chance for the kids to meet and take pictures with Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus.
Children can write letters to Santa. There will be arts and crafts for hands-on activities that reflect the festive spirit. Cookies and hot cocoa will be served, and beautifully and colorfully decorated Christmas trees will be displayed.
"It will be a fun evening to kick off the holiday season. Everyone is working hard. We have a large board, and each member is very enthusiastic."
Wasco Bengals Football will sell deep pit barbecue dinners to raise money for their teams.
Gonzalo Cruz, league representative, said, "This is our second year doing this with Toys for Tigers. We are beyond grateful for their invitation. We always love to partner with organizations that are all about the community like us."