Toys for Tigers brought joy to hundreds of children during its annual event, distributing gifts during this special time to ensure that every child in need experiences the magic of Christmas.
The event on Saturday at Grace Community Church was a collective effort, with the organization raising funds throughout the year to purchase toys to serve over 300 families in 2023.
"Yearly, we raise between $10,000 and $20,000, and all of that stays in Wasco," Madeline Nicol said. "This time, we partnered with Macy's, and they really rolled out the red carpet for us and treated us well, and we couldn't do what we do without the community's support."
There were other donors, such as Flor Olvera of the Democratic Women of Kern, who provided toys and gift cards. "I was born and raised in Wasco. This year, the organization decided to give back to a rural community, and I was excited to be an advocate for Wasco."
"It's important to help local organizations like Toys for Tigers, because they are the ones that put in the work to make it happen and help disadvantaged youth."
Many volunteers joined the distribution to help hand-select the toys that were tailored to be age-appropriate.
Leila Marin, a Wasco High School FFA student, was one of the volunteers. "I've always done this. It's my 12th year. I do it because I like the charity work, and I think this is a great charity project."
Another volunteer and WHS FFA student, Arturo Nunez, said, "What we are doing here is good for our community. We are giving Christmas gifts to kids that otherwise wouldn't have them."
"The best part of volunteering is knowing that we are helping people that are struggling."
Donna Ward has been involved for a decade. "This is my second year running it, with it being my first year officially taking over the organization."
"These last two years have been exciting and fulfilling, and I feel humbled by all of our community support and what we get to do for our community."
"Over the last 10 years, what I have enjoyed most has been distribution day when we get to give out the toys and food baskets to our families."
One of those families includes the Santacruz. "We received many gifts. I feel very blessed and excited for my kids. It is a true act of kindness."
"With these tough economic times, there just isn't enough money for Christmas presents, and I'm so grateful."
Fatima Rufino echoed that sentiment. "It means a lot to our family. Our kids are going to have a nice Christmas thanks to this great organization."