LANCASTER – The Antelope Valley Transit Authority held a bagging party Wednesday for the more than 5,000 toys and clothing items collected during the past two weeks as part of the agency’s Stuff-a-Bus holiday toy drive.
Community leaders and dozens of volunteers, representing six local charities, gathered in the AVTA Community Room to celebrate the event’s success, which was the result of a partnership between the charities, the valley’s business community and AVTA.
Volunteers came with trucks and plenty of hands to bag up the donations, which will be distributed to local families in time for Christmas. It took less than an hour to bag up all of the toys and load them into the charities’ trucks, with the help of community leaders such as Assemblyman Tom Lackey and Lancaster Councilwoman and AVTA Director Angela Underwood-Jacobs.
The annual toy drive is the transit agency’s way of helping those less fortunate in the community during the holidays. This year’s event will benefit families from Grace Resource Center, the Children’s Center of the Antelope Valley, the South Antelope Valley Emergency Services (SAVES), the Child and Family Guidance Center, the Children’s Bureau of the Antelope Valley, and the Marco & Sandra Johnson Foundation.
The bagging party got underway after remarks from Assemblyman Lackey, AVTA Vice-Chair Dianne Knippel, Underwood-Jacobs, Palmdale’s Director of Neighborhood Services Mike Miller, and AVTA Director of Communications Wendy Williams.
“AVTA’s Stuff-a-Bus toy drive is all about the gift of giving,” said Assemblyman Lackey. “The local charities that participate in Stuff-a-Bus serve a combined total of 15,000 kids in the Antelope Valley. That number demonstrates the great need there is for this fantastic annual event, and AVTA is to be commended for doing all they can to help these children receive a gift for Christmas.”
Each of the participating charities left the bagging party with more than a dozen large bags loaded with dolls, games, footballs and teddy bears, as well as toys and clothes for babies and items for teenagers, too, all to benefit the local families they serve. Some even had a Christmas tree for a lucky family, donated by Walmart.
“Every year we look forward to being a part of the AVTA Stuff-a-Bus, and as a city, we are proud to sponsor this wonderful event which helps so many of our local youth,” stated Lancaster Vice-Mayor Marvin Crist. “Helping “Stuff That Bus!” at the city of Lancaster’s ‘Magical BLVD Christmas’ is becoming a tradition for valley residents, and provides a great opportunity for families to give to those who are less fortunate.”
Local businesses donated nearly $24,000 to the toy drive, enabling AVTA’s staff to purchase many of the items, while Antelope Valley community residents donated a generous amount of toys and gifts at the agency’s four collection events, bringing the total to well over $50,000 in donations. AVTA’s major business sponsors this year were Walmart, BYD, Transdev, Complete Coach Works, and the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale.
“This year our Stuff-a-Bus community business sponsors stepped up in a big way, and cash donations were up by 49% over last year, all of which was used to purchase a record number of toys, clothing and gifts to help stuff the bus,” stated AVTA Executive Director Len Engel. “Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors thousands of local children in the Antelope Valley will have a much brighter holiday.”
AVTA’s Stuff-a-Bus was also supported by Granite Construction, OpSec Security, the Jethawks, Rally Chevrolet, ReMax, Vinsa Insurance, Arrow Engineering, and IntelliRide.
[Information via news release from the Antelope Valley Transit Authority.]