VICTORVILLE – Parents along with their children began to line up outside of the High Desert Homeless Services (HDHS) Homeless Shelter in Victorville on Monday for the 8th Annual CHiPs for Kids event, sponsored by the California Highway Patrol (CHP). Each year, the staff at HDHS excitedly prepares to welcome numerous children from the community, who do not reside at the shelter into their facility.
All of the steps to collect approximately 500 toys for underprivileged children is nothing short of magic. Officer Mumford, of the Victorville CHP office, has for the first year this year, taken over this event from the former Officer Hunt, who is now after his promotion, Sergeant Hunt. Collecting toys begins on Black Friday, the day following Thanksgiving and continues until the day the toys are distributed. Sitting outside of designated stores and setting out collection boxes where the community steps forward to fill on behalf of children who may not otherwise receive a gift.
A.J. Foran, a Silver Lakes resident, began collecting toys for children shortly after the 2007 death of her 19-year-old daughter. Crystal-Dale Foran was on her way to work at Bath and Body Works, as she was on National Trails Highway her vehicle was struck by a driver who was found to be on her cell phone. “The community came through for us, they collected over $10,000 to assist with all of the funeral costs for our daughter,” said A.J. “My husband and I did not have to pay anything and after everything was paid, we had $200 left. The money was not our money, we had to decide what to do with it to give it back to our community. I prayed about it, and I took the money and began purchasing toys for children in need for Christmas.” A.J.’s collecting grew, and grew, now nearly filling Crystal’s room each year, the toys are picked up by the CHP to help to deliver them to HDHS just before the CHiPs for Kids event each year.
The CHP was set to arrive at High Desert Homeless Services, located in the 14000 block of Amargosa Road at approximately 2:00 p.m. The staff and volunteers scrambled, beginning to set up at around 10:00 a.m., setting up gift tables, wrapping the tables with wrapping paper and adding finishing touches to the decor. The culmination of all of the planning came as the toys all packed in gigantic clear bags were walked into the shelter by CHP officers, HDHS volunteers, and HDHS staff. The excitement built as the children saw the homeless shelter nearly transform into Santa’s workshop on Christmas eve!
Families were allowed in and were seated as Officer Mumford, A.J. Foran, Mayor Gloria Garcia, of Victorville, the HDHS Board, the HDHS staff, Santa Claus, Chipper (the CHP Chipmunk), and everyone else involved briefly spoke to those eagerly waiting for the toy choosing to begin. As with previous years, the event was about, and only about the children. All of the children were allowed around the maze of over 500 toys to choose whichever one that their tiny heart desired. There were gift selections for those newborn to 17-years-old. The event left so many community children, including those residing at the Homeless Shelter with smiles on their faces as they left the shelter with the toy that they chose.
Some asked, what happens with the toys left over. This is the final part of the magic! There are 14 children residing at High Desert Homeless Services this year. These children, for the most part, have had to leave a home that they once felt stable in due to their family’s loss of income or one of a few other situations. Many left their favorite clothes and toys behind due to a lack of space, a place to go, or finances to rent a storage space. Most children residing at HDHS are fortunately able to remain at their same school in order to provide the best opportunity for reducing the impact of becoming homeless. “The parents who have children at the shelter, many times already feel as though they failed somehow as a parent,” said Executive Director Jimmy Waldron. “With the remainder of the toys, we have the parents choose a few gifts for each of their children. These gifts will be wrapped up for them by our volunteers from Serrano High School Socially Aware Serrano Students (S.A.S.S.) or if the parents choose, they can wrap the gifts on their own.” Waldron said that on Christmas Eve, the night worker at the shelter acts as Santa, placing each gift under the tree for the Children to wake up to to provide not only normalcy for them but a special day to remember.
High Desert Homeless Services is a 55-bed homeless shelter serving homeless men, women, and children. Aside from the regular Homeless Shelter on Amargosa Road, High Desert Homeless Services; along with the Victor Valley Rescue Mission and other organizations is operating the Victor Valley Community Warming Shelter.
The homeless shelter is still seeking donations for adult clients at the shelter, so that the 14 men and 16 women, too can be provided with a special gift. They are also collecting gifts for the warming shelter and are seeking 70 each of backpacks, socks, knit gloves, and beanies. They also can use a special Christmas meal, baked goods, and/or drinks.
If anyone would like to help, message the Victor Valley Community Warming Shelter Facebook Page or the High Desert Homeless Services Facebook page.
Reporter at 24/7 Headline News
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Got News? Contact me at ChristieMartin@247headline.com
Got News? Contact me at ChristieMartin@247headline.com
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