Written by Jane Lu
Translated by H.B. Qin
Edited by Andrea Barkley
Every December, families in the United States fill with joy as the holiday season takes hold. On December 17, 2022, Tzu Chi USA joined hands with the Los Angeles area’s Alhambra Unified School District, Alhambra Fire Department, and Spark of Love Toy Drive in an event prepared for the school district’s students from underresourced families.
The Fire Department prepared breakfast on site for the children to enjoy, and toys in the warehouse to select. While the children lined up to enter the warehouse to choose their toys, their parents waited outside to watch their children return with gifts in their arms, all smiles.
Happy Holidays, Great Gifts!
The toy drive had been suspended during the pandemic. However, with the pandemic subsiding, Tzu Chi volunteers decided to spread love to children in need and resumed working with community organizations and charities to give Christmas gifts to underresourced families.
Tzu Chi USA Headquarters has participated in the Spark of Love Toy Drive for more than a decade. Hundreds of students and parents in the school district each year need aid. In addition to toys, volunteers of the USA Headquarters’ Treasure Hut House team brought various second-hand clothes for adults and children.
Tzu Chi El Monte liaison officer Jian Chen said, “The families who came here are pleased. Because high inflation makes life especially hard for families struggling, seeing the parents and children happy, we are even more joyful. Although the weather is freezing, we are still warm in the heart.”
Happy Cooperation to Help More Families
Alhambra Fire Chief Jose Herrera is the main organizer of the Spark of Love Toy Drive event: “The most important thing is that Tzu Chi is here to work with our Alhambra School District. If we do it alone, we can only do a little. But, working together, we can help more families, and today we have over 4,000 gifts.”
Tzu Chi Cash Cards Fulfill a Small Wish
Alhambra Unified School District Assistant Superintendent Pat Mahoney said, “This program has been going on for many years. You can see that there are so many toys, backpacks, and cash cards. Children can choose the gifts they want; we had such a bright Christmas celebration for these kids, and there are Tzu Chi cash cards that allow them to go and get what they need.”
Alhambra Unified School District staff member Robert Gin said, “This event is for these families to have a very joyful Christmas holiday.”
A Happy Day Full of Fun
The joy of seeing the children and parents coming out of the big warehouse with their favorite toys, clothes, and shoes in big bags, the pleasure of returning home with a full load, moved everyone. The volunteers also silently wished these children a bright future, in addition to the short-lived joy of the holiday.