GRIC Toy Drive is collecting Christmas gifts for underprivileged youth
November 17, 2017
Thomas R. Throssell
Gila River Indian News
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, which means the Christmas season will soon be upon us with its festive decorations, scrumptious food, homes full of family and friends, and most importantly, presents.
While many Gila River Indian Community children will be opening presents on Christmas day, there are youngsters in the Community who wouldn’t have a Christmas if it weren’t for the annual GRIC Toy Drive.
The toy drive, which will be collecting donated toys from Nov. 1 through Dec. 9, is a joint sponsorship between the Gila River Fire Department and the Gila River Police Department, and is receiving assistance from numerous tribal government departments, local organizations, and enterprises.
Kathy Garcia, GRFD Deputy Fire Marshall said, “The purpose of the toy drive is to get toys for Community kids that are under the umbrella of our Tribal Social Services.”
She said there are two ways for people to donate gifts to the toy drive. People can either sponsor an individual child or family, or drop off unwrapped toys at one of the six collection locations. Garcia added there is a three-gift minimum requirement when sponsoring a child and all toys must be new, not used.
Garcia said the donated toys will be for children of all ages, from infants to 18 years-old. She recommends books, board games, soccer balls, footballs, and dolls, and suggests against gifting toy guns, darts, and other violent themed toys. She added they have the most difficulty receiving gifts for children between the ages of 8 and 14, urges donators to look for presents in this age range.
After all the donated toys are collected, a wrapping party will be held at the Huhugham Heritage Center on Dec. 8, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Alie Walking Badger, GRIC Communications and Public Affairs Office Special Events Coordinator, said the GRFD and GRPD play a huge role in the toy drive, collecting the toys, logging each gift, keeping inventory, and distributing presents to children that eventually culminates in a Christmas party, which will be held on Dec. 20 at the Main Event in Tempe, Ariz.
“We have had (the Christmas party) at various places throughout the years, (but) this year we wanted to give the kids an experience they might not usually get, so we are doing it at the Main Event in Tempe.”
She said this year, the kids can look forward to a highly entertaining Christmas extravaganza while receiving their presents.
Garcia said the toy drive serves over 500 children and typically gives out around 1,500 presents, and this year they are expecting a similar amount. Luckily, she said, there are many departments, organizations, and enterprises distributing the work amongst themselves.
No matter how much work it takes to collect presents, make sure every child receives gifts, keep inventory, wrap gifts, and throw a Christmas party, Garcia says it is all worth it, and for a great cause.
“Once we have the ability, we should always be helping those in need,” said Garcia. “We really take pride in making sure (the children) are all taken care of.”
If you are interested in sponsoring a child or family, contact Tribal Social Service’s at (520) 562-3396 and ask for Darylene Blaine. If you would like to participate in the gift-wrapping party, call Shannon Redbird at (520) 562-9859.
The following are locations where toy donations can be dropped off.
Fire Station 426 at 4793 W. Pecos Rd., Laveen Village – (520) 796-4515
Fire Station 423 at 599 East Seed Farm Rd., Sacaton, AZ – (520) 796-4580
Fire Station 429 at 5002 North Maricopa Rd., Chandler, AZ – (520) 796-5900
Fire Station 421 at 829 Blackwater School Rd., Coolidge, AZ – (520) 796-4510
GRICUA at 6640 W. Sundust Rd. Ste. 5091, Chandler, AZ – (520) 796-0600
Gila River Police Department at 639 W. Seed Farm Rd., Sacaton, AZ, 85147