Girl Scouts this month packed hundreds of gifts for children who otherwise likely wouldn't have received a single present this holiday season in San Mateo County.
County workers have identified children, ages newborn to 18, as being at risk of going without a gift this holiday season. Their first names, ages, and three gift wishes are submitted to the San Mateo County’s Children’s Fund Holiday Program, which aims to fill this gap.
The Children’s Fund helps children in the county’s need-based programs throughout the year, assisting with orthodontia and specialized dental bills, a school supply drive, and re-programmed computers.
The Holiday Program, according to Children’s Fund Program Coordinator Rebecca Asch, is the most ambitious.
Recipients are identified through the pool of families currently in county programs including foster youth, and those receiving food and shelter assistance.
Through toy barrel collections, monetary donations, and a Gift Tag program, the Fund hopes to deliver at least one gift to each of the 3,500 children identified this year.
In two-hour shifts, approximately 40 Girl Scouts selected and packaged new, unwrapped toys, clothing, board games, books, and sports gear into bags and tagged them for delivery.
Additional Scouts also dropped off 60 items and fulfilled 20 Gift Tags, on Saturday. County workers will deliver to children beginning December 20.
Late Monday morning, they were visited by Congresswoman Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, who commended the Scouts for their holiday spirit of giving.
“At a time when the economy is improving, the Children’s Fund is desperately in need of toys for 3,500 children. The shelves for 9-15 year olds are almost bare and they need the community’s help to donate more toys,” Speier said.
In 2012, the Fund spread holiday cheer to 3,822 children through gift donations. This year’s numbers are similarly high but the Fund is unsure whether or not they will be able to fulfill their goal.
The toy barrels are slower in getting filled this year but the level of need remains high. Donations can also be dropped off directly at Holiday Central, 550 Quarry Road, Belmont, CAbetween 9am-5pm M-F and on Saturday, Dec. 14 between 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
The County of San Mateo Children’s Fund has been helping the county’s underprivileged children since 1973. Current programs include the annual holiday toy drive, orthodontia and specialized dental assistance, a school supply drive, and re-programmed computers.
The County of San Mateo Human Services Agency assists individuals and families to achieve economic self-sufficiency, promote community and family strength, and works to ensure child safety and well-being. More information can be found at www.co.sanmateo.ca.us/childrensfund.