RED BLUFF — The Children’s Christmas Festival Saturday handed out hundreds of toys and other items to families who may have otherwise missed out on exchanging presents this holiday season.
The festival was held at the Red Bluff Community Center and hosted by Northern California Child Development, Inc., which took over the event last year from Tehama Together.
Enrollment and Recruitment Manager Jennifer Torres said the festival was open to the public and held outside as a precaution against spreading the coronavirus. Attendees had two options in how to pick up their toys. They could stand in line then walk through to get them or go through the drive-through area. Masks were required at the event.
The California Highway Patrol partnered with NCCDI to include its CHiPs For Kids event as part of the festival. CHP officers and volunteers helped oversee the drive-through area.
Officer Omar Valdez said the group manning the drive-through tried to make it run smoothly and quickly while giving kids a positive experience with law enforcement.
The CHP received more than 1,500 donated toys this year. Valdez said in previous years the drive averaged around 1,200 toys.
“That’s all from the community,” Valdez said. “Whether they are donating money, gift cards, or actual toys. So we really want to thank the community for stepping it up this year.”
Torres expressed excitement in seeing how many cars came out for the drive-through and how many families there were for the walk-up area.
So many cars were showing up at the drive-through Valdez said he was worried the festival might run out of toys before the event was over at 4 p.m.
“We want to get to as many kids as possible this year because there is no real way to reach out,” Valdez said.
By 4 p.m. Valdez estimated around 100 toys were left over. He said the CHP would look for local organizations to donate the remaining toys to.
Torres said the festival went well and smoother than she thought. More than 300 families used the drive-through, and more than 100 families walked up to pick up toys.
As the last cars were making their way through the drive-through and cleanup was underway at the community center, Torres thanked the small army of volunteers and local organizations who helped make the festival a success.