Local News

Monday, Dec 17 2012 08:03 PM

'Magnificent' effort brings toys to needy kids

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    By Alex Horvath / The Californian

    Six-year-old Asuncion Diaz looks for a special toy with the help of CHP Officer Scott Whittaker Monday night at the CHiPS for Kids toy distribution. More than 2,500 tokens where distributed to Kern County area children, some of whom were some lined up by 10 a.m. Monday for the 5 p.m. toy distribution at Valley Baptisit Church.

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    By Alex Horvath / The Californian

    Five-year-old Gina Villareal visits with Santa after picking a toy at the CHiPS for Kids toy distribution. More than 2,500 tokens where distributed to Kern County area children, some of whom were some lined up by 10 a.m. Monday for the 5 p.m. toy distribution at Valley Baptist Church.

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    By Californian file photo

    More than 2,500 tokens where distributed to Kern County area children in this December 2012 photo. The toy distribution at Valley Baptist Church was sponsored by CHiPS for Kids.

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    By Alex Horvath / The Californian

    Calixta Diaz receives some bike safety tips from Santa after picking out a new bike with the help of volunteer Lauren Utt at the CHiPS for Kids toy distribution at Valley Baptist Church.

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BY COURTENAY EDELHART Californian staff writer cedelhart@bakersfield.com

Calixta Diaz went straight for the bikes after a volunteer asked her what she wanted from the California Highway Patrol's CHiPs for KiDs Toy Drive.

"I like to ride bikes," she said, smiling. "I have one, but it's kind of old and falling apart."

Some 2,500 to 3,000 children waited in line for hours Monday to pick up a Christmas present. They had been referred to the police charity from Kern County Network for Children, an agency of the Kern County Superintendent of Schools Office that works with social service agencies to help sick and disadvantaged children.

Police and various sponsors and partners -- including The Bakersfield Californian and Motor City -- gathered toys at collection points all over town from Nov. 30 to last Wednesday.

On Monday, the bounty was arrayed at Valley Baptist Church in clusters organized according to age, gender and the type of toy. Children with valid referrals were given a token good for one toy, which they were able to select themselves, escorted by a police officer or one of several dozen other volunteers who turned out to help.

Diaz, 11, was matched with Frontier High School cheerleader Lauren Utt, 17, who called the event "magnificent."

"I love how many toys we have here, and how many people came to help out with these kids," she said.

The police collected about 3,000 toys, more than enough for the hefty turnout, said CHP spokesman Robert Rodriguez.

"It feels wonderful," he said, surveying the room full of colorful toys. "We worked really hard, a lot of hours sorting toys.

"We start working on this in August, planning and finding the venue and different sponsors, so this is the day we worked so hard for, and it all pays off."

Ryder Bristow, 5, took his time browsing before finally settling on a Star Wars Lego set.

"My dad's a big fan of Star Wars, and I like Legos," he said, clutching his find to his chest as a volunteer led him toward the exit.

Meanwhile, Laura Ruiz, 15, was waiting with her seven brothers and sisters to come inside. It took two hours of standing in a line that snaked through the church's large, tree-lined campus to get to that point, but she wasn't the least bit bitter.

"It's just a blessing," Ruiz said.

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