Woodlake groups collecting ‘Toys For Joy’ of it

Woodlake may be Tulare County’s smallest city, but it has a big heart.

Each year, rival service clubs, senior citizens, afterschool programs, public agencies and private businesses come together to raise nearly $5,000 in donations during Woodlake’s annual Toys For Joy toy drive.

“There is no more gratifying feeling you can have than showing up to these children’s home and surprising them with a gift, telling them that someone truly cares about them,” said Greg Gonzalez, Jr., coordinator for the annual toy drive. “So many people take part in this project solely for the purpose of making a joyous Christmas for all our children.”

Gonzalez, who is also director of the Woodlake Family Resource Center and a Woodlake City Counilmember, said the money provides toys for about 650 boys and girls in Woodlake. Even though this toy drive targets children, Gonzalez said Woodlake’s seniors citizens and many other community get involved by helping with wrapping, sorting and delivering. Other service clubs that help out are our Knights of Columbus, Kiwanis, Key Club, YMCA, Sunset Waste, Family Health Care Network and so many much more individual help.

“Even with all of us coming together we are still in dire need of financial support to raise enough money to give toys to an estimated 850 children in town,” Gonzalez said.

Every year, Gonzalez said the goal is to raise more than $5,000 to be able to purchase toys and other materials needed for this project for children up to 18 years old attending Woodlake Unified School District. New toys may be dropped off at the following locations now through Dec. 20:

-Woodlake City Hall, 350 N. Valencia Blvd.

-1st Choice Foods, 250 East Lakeview Ave.

– Family Health Care Network, 201 E Lakeview Ave.

– US Tower, 1099 West Ropes Ave.

– Any Woodlake Unified School District site

Gonzalez said he is hoping to have donations by Dec. 20 but there is never a deadline to donate. Toys donated after Christmas will remain in Woodlake and given to local children. Toys For Joy is a non-profit that can accept charitable donation for tax purposes. Donations should be mailed to: Woodlake Toys For Joy, P.O. 664, Woodlake, CA 93286. Toys will be wrapped and delivered from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 22 and Sunday, Dec. 23 at the YMCA Building at Woodlake Valley Middle School, 497 North Palm St.

“We need your help with financial assistance or any newly unwrapped toy or gift for our children of Woodlake,” Gonzalez said. “Any assistance would be appreciated, thank you for your time and consideration to our cause during this holiday season.”

For questions about the Toys For Joy drive, call toy drive coordinator Greg Gonzalez, Jr. at (559) 300-0452.

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