Local News

Monday, Dec 23 2013 04:28 PM

Christmas comes early for local children, CHiPs for Kids

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Justin Braughton helps Hallie Romero make her Christmas gift selection during the CHIP's for Kids toy distribution held at Valley Baptist Church Monday afternoon. A volunteer escorted an individual child into a large room at the church where they were able to make a selection from hundreds of gifts.

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  2. 2 of 5

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Hallie Romero looks up at her escort, Justin Braughton, who helped her pick out a Radio Flyer during the CHIP's for Kids toy distribution held at Valley Baptist Church Monday afternoon.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    A large multipurpose room at Valley Baptist Church was used Monday afternoon as the distribution area for thousands of toys collected for the CHIP's for Kids toy drive.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Having thousands of toys to choose from makes the decision-making a bit difficult for Isaiah Perkins and his helper Lupita Ayala at the CHIP's for Kids toys distribution event held at Valley Baptist Church Monday.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Eleven-year-old Kenlee Calvin appears excited as she enters a multipurpose room at Valley Baptist Church to make a gift selection with her escort, Elizabeth Oxley, right, Monday afternoon. CHIP's for Kids distributed thousands of toys.

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BY LAURA LIERA Californian staff writer lliera@bakersfield.com

Jocelyn Larue held on to a new Hello Kitty makeup set that included nail polish, nails, blush and a mirror. But as she turned around and saw the Play-Doh Magic Swirl Ice Cream Shoppe, she dropped the makeup set.

"This is the one I want," the 7-year-old said as she pointed to the new toy, a big smile on her face.

The ice cream maker was the newest Play-Doh gadget she had seen on TV a couple days ago and she wanted it for Christmas.

Larue was one of about 4,500 kids who got brand new toys at the CHiPs for Kids Toy distribution Monday afternoon at Valley Baptist Church.

The church's multipurpose room was turned into a kid's dream toy store. From stuffed animals to skateboards to Barbies, the mountains of toys seemed endless, just like the line of kids and parents outside, snaking around the church and parking lots.

Standing in line with her three kids, Tiffany Firestone, 33, had arrived at 10 a.m. and did not expect to see so many people.

"Looks like this year many of us needed this toy distribution for a good Christmas, judging from the amount of people that are here," Firestone said.

This was Firestone's second year receiving gifts from the toy drive. Buying a new bike for her 7-year-old son Cory Crocker was not on her budget this year, she said. The few presents she had been able to buy so far totaled $20.

Relieving the stress and heartbreak for parents who can only afford one or two small gifts is why CHP Officer Angela Molinar and CHP public information officer Robert Rodriguez started the toy drive in Bakersfield four years ago.

"It's an amazing feeling to see a kid come in and see their eyes grow big as they scan around the room at all the toys," Molinar said.

Last year, the CHP gave out 2,000 CHiPs tokens to disadvantaged and hospitalized kids' parents to be exchanged for gifts. With the partnership of local companies, the number of tokens more than doubled this year.

The toy drives started in July but more toys were collected in November, Molinar said.

Alantis Rede, 14, a volunteer, liked the way kids got to choose their presents.

Only 20 kids at time were allowed inside the room and parents were not allowed to peruse the room with their kids. Children dropped off their tokens at the entrance and were then led around the room with a volunteer.

"This gives the kids the chance to pick out what they want, not what their parents might want them to get," Rede said. "Christmas is all about them and their happiness when they get a hold of that present they have been wanting."

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