Christmas arrives early for Coachella Valley kids.
Santa was on hand to greet his helpers, volunteers from across the Coachella valley, and the stage was set for the annual Coachella Valley Rescue Mission Toy Give Away.
Over 3,300 kids waited in lines that stretched around the building and into the street for the fun. The first boys in line, brothers, told me they waited three days for the occasion. Many of the recipients felt Christmas cheer thanks to the community support.
“I get to pick out my toys and other kids get gifts too,” said Isaac Gaytan.
“Because they help a lot of parents who don’t have money to buy Christmas presents,” said Jennifer Arueta.
One mother told KMIR News that her family fell upon hard times this year but the toy give away teaches her four kids a valuable lesson.
“It is important because even if they don’t receive, if they get one or two to give back,” said a mother, Ashley Wells. “When the community does something like this, they learn the spirit of giving.”
Volunteers say although they were giving their time, they were getting much more in return.
“(If we) can’t do for our kids then we’re done as a society; they’re the foundation of everything,” said Kevin Fort. “To put a little bit of joy in sometimes difficult lives is really the greatest gift of all.”
One thousand volunteers from across the Coachella valley worked for months to prepare for the event. This year, there were more bikes than ever.
"From mecca all the way to palm springs, there is a lot of poverty in this valley. There’s a lot of wealth too. This is these kids’ Christmas,” said Coachella Valley Rescue Mission’s Executive Director Darla Burkett.