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Riverbank Cares - Toy, Food Drive Success For 2012
The City of Riverbank, in cooperation with local clubs and business, spent the last several weeks accepting toys, food, and monetary donations for the 'Riverbank Cares 2012 Christmas Toy and Food Drive.' The toy giveaway associated with the drive was staged on Tuesday, Dec. 18 starting at 6 p.m. at Karate for Kids, 3342 Santa Fe St. in downtown Riverbank. Donations were accepted from Nov. 26 to Dec. 17 and were collected at several businesses throughout the community, including O'Brien's Market, Les Schwab Tires, Pizza Plus, and many more. The food drive was on Friday, Dec. 21 at 10 a.m.; with the food distributed to less fortunate families in the region so they, too, could have a special holiday meal.

"There is a tremendous effort in our community to see that those in need are given extra help during this time of year," said Scott Pettit, owner of Karate for Kids.

As darkness set in and the air became brisk on Dec. 18, it didn't stop families from standing in line to receive presents for their children at the Riverbank Cares toy giveaway. The line was at least a few blocks long.

The fire department arrived with Santa and Mrs. Claus on board and applause filled the street. The doors to Karate for Kids opened to allow the children in to collect their gifts. In a smooth-running operation, the parents and children funneled through the building, stopping first for their ticket with their name and age on it, and then receiving their bag filled with a variety of toys. The last stop the youngsters made was with Santa and Mrs. Claus who were handing out candy canes and posing for photos with the children.

Although toy donations were lower this year than in the past, perhaps due to the continued tough economic times, they were still able to give gifts to over 300 children in the community.

"God performs miracles for his children," said Norma Torres-Manriquez, Human Services Specialist for the city.

She noted that there were some charitable souls that also made some cash donations, which helped the organization purchase more toys. But even with all the toys that they had collected for the evening's event, they began to see the gift bags dwindle down quickly.

"Halfway through our giveaway we ran out of girl toys (for) ages 8 through 10 and it was then that we had our miracle," Torres-Manriquez said. "In a mad panic we rummaged through the empty boxes and bags that we had piled up in the corner and behind the pile we found seven large bags of toys that we had missed."

Among them were enough toys to fill the age group needs, and every child that signed up received a bag full of toys.

The chilly Tuesday night ended with kids beaming and like the 'Grinch' himself, it appears everyone's hearts grew two sizes bigger, sharing the joy of the holiday season.