On December 17th at the sixth annual Holiday Toy Giveaway, more than 400 children at Cesar Chavez Head Start, ages six months to five years old, received a new toy, a book, and a photo with Santa Claus. Our Head Start families were also able to enjoy cookie decorating and delicious Mexican food while dancing the evening away with Queen Elsa from Disney’s Frozen II.
Jacqueline Smith, The Unity Council’s Family and Community Partnerships & Home-Based Coordinator, has been spearheading the toy drive and giveaway at Cesar Chavez for more than six years. Before the site, she coordinated toy drives at Thurgood Marshall and Foothill Square sites in Oakland for four years.
Although producing the event takes much collaboration with local businesses and private donors, Smith says the Head Start children are worth it. Unwrapped toys and gifts were collected at both Jack’s Restaurant in Pleasant Hill and at the Cesar Chavez Head Start Center., The toy giveaway also provides financial relief for many families who are cash-strapped this time of the year. “For a lot of our kids, the holiday season is the only time children will get a new toy,” said Smith. “The parents can’t believe it and are shocked that it’s all free of charge.”
For parents, like Mireya, this toy giveaway is a reminder of how fortunate they are to be a part of the Cesar Chavez community. “It’s great to have the privilege to go to Cesar Chavez,” said Mireya, whose 3-year-old daughter attends the Center. “I have children that have attended other schools, and they have never done anything like this. This school really puts the kids first. “
Concord Councilmember Dominic Aliano greeted families and distributed juice and water to the young children and their families. He described the toy giveaway held at the popular Mexican nightclub as the first event of its kind in Concord and was blown away by the large number of gifts being distributed throughout the evening.
“As the Councilmember that represents this community, it’s great to see The Unity Council, El Rancho, and I come together, especially this time of the year,” said Aliano.
For his first time at the event, Aliano already looks forward to helping out in a greater capacity, including getting more local businesses to participate. “As long as I’m in office, I will be a part of this event every year,” said the Vice Mayor. “I don’t see my relationship with TUC ever dying. We will continue to partner, especially in the Monument community.”
This event was possible thanks to our partnership with Jack’s Restaurant in Pleasant Hill, El Rancho Restaurant and Concord Vice Mayor Dominic Aliano.