BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The California Highway Patrol is partnering with Kern County businesses this holiday season to make sure every kid has something under their Christmas tree this year. The annual CHiPs for Kids toy drive is back.
“I think when these kids come and collect these toys, you just see it on their faces that they are so happy and ecstatic that they are able to get something for the holidays,” said CHP Officer Tomas Martinez.
The CHiPs for Kids toy drive has been an annual event in California for more than 30 years, starting in Los Angeles and eventually spreading up and down the state.
“So our CHiPs for Kids program, we do this annually,” said Martinez. “What we do is collect new and unused wrapped toys for zero to sixteen years of age, and we work with local communities that are able to distribute these toys to all our kids in Kern County.”
Some of the businesses who have partnered with CHP for the toy drive are Motor City Lexus, all Walgreen’s locations in Kern County, and both Carniceria La Carreta locations.
“Being involved with CHiPs for Kids, it kind of goes back to our parents and their upbringings,” said Gabriela Vasquez, Chief Financial Officer for Carniceria La Carreta. “They came from nothing, and being able to give back to the community is very important to us.”
Vasquez says there is something about the CHiPs for Kids campaign that always catches her attention.
“Just seeing these kids walk out with a smile on their face is so impactful and meaningful,” said Vasquez.
Martinez acknowledges that times are tough for many people right now with rising prices, but there are still other kids and families that are less fortunate.
“Everything is kind of expensive,” said Martinez. “With the cost of everything, it means a lot to be able to put a smile on these kids’ face and show them there is something to look forward to and you can enjoy these holidays with your families as well.”
Vasquez describes how Carniceria La Carreta is preparing for the community’s toy donations.
“We’ll have a Christmas tree and drop-off box available for our customers to come in and drop off and unused, new, unwrapped toy for any child from the ages of newborn all the way up until sixteen, seventeen years of age,” Vasquez explained.
Vasquez says Carniceria La Carreta has participated in the CHiPs for Kids toy drive for several years, and they will continue to do so to give back to the community.
“Being able to give back to the community is very important to us because all through now, we are better off,” said Vasquez. “Initially, where our parents started, it was from nothing, so we like to stay humble and remember where our upbringings are from.”
The California Highway Patrol and their partners in the CHiPs for Kids toy drive say they all have one common goal.
“The ultimate goal,” said Martinez, “is obviously to just take care of these kids that are less fortunate, but also we like to look at it as we are kind of bridging that gap between our community and the children and our department.”
The CHiPs for Kids toy drive is going on from now until December 16. If you would like more information on how you can donate, you can visit the California Highway Patrol’s Office of Community Outreach website for contact information.