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Foster Kids’ Requests Answered By AVF
American Veterans First had an assortment of toys collected for Central Valley Foster Care, Inc. just in time for Christmas. Photo Contributed

For the second year in a row, American Veterans First (AVF) has delivered a large assortment of toys to Central Valley Foster Care, Inc. in Riverbank, making that delivery last week. The month long collection of toys for foster kids was a huge success as friends of AVF answered a call for the kids.

Vehicles rolled through downtown Riverbank and pulled up to Central Valley Foster Care where volunteers unloaded an assortment of toys. They collected eight bicycles, and even filled a variety of specific requests like pogo sticks and skateboards.

AVF CEO Duke Cooper, Secretary Paige McLaughlin, Treasurer Lynell Soloman, board members, John Hinkel, volunteers, Surjit Malhi, Riverbank City Manager Sean Scully and Central Valley Foster Care staff were all on hand this past Friday for the toy delivery.

“We put it (toy collection) on social media and all of our faithfuls like Surjit Malhi and our friends that we have been dealing with for five years made it happen,” said Cooper. “We fulfilled all those dreams; even some makeup kits for the 13- to 16-year-old girls. It was definitely Christmas. We did well. It (toy delivery) was a great time.”

Hinkel had previously worked with the Foster Care group in years past with Veterans in Action MC where he introduced them to AVF last year. They donated several suitcases last year for the foster kids as some of them were carrying their belongings in a trash bags.

After the toys were delivered everyone gathered for a toast with apple cider in celebration of the generosity and holiday season.

Cooper noted that they put names of foster kids on a Christmas tree that had requested specific items they wanted and people drew names for about 40 kids. The staff at Central Valley will wrap all the gifts received for the kids.

“They are always glad to see us,” noted Cooper about their delivery. “They were blown away and so appreciative. It was a blast. The fact that we know we are putting smiles on some kids’ faces that may not have necessarily had a good time or an easy going. It is better to give than it is to receive.”

Central Valley Foster Care, Inc. has been in Riverbank since 2001 and served thousands of foster children in Stanislaus County and surrounding communities. The children are referred to the organization by social workers from 12 counties.

Longtime friend and supporter Surjit Malhi was on hand to help deliver toys to Central Valley Foster Care, Inc. in Riverbank this past Friday. Photo Contributed