Ok, let’s face it, this was a year like no other in our lifetimes but that didn’t stop the ACFPA from having our annual Christmas party for the Resource Parents, including relative, foster and adoptive families, and children in Alameda County. Just one small change, this one was a Drive-Through Event!
As in previous years, our amazing partners at East Bay Orphan Care co-hosted the celebration, providing volunteers, gifts, toys and lunch to go. We couldn’t do what we do without the generosity and support of the First Presbyterian Church of Hayward and Pastor Jake Medcalf. As usual, they provided us not only with resources and support but offered us their facility and parking lot for use for this event.
Rendy Orlando, our Fundraising and Donations Co-Chair, took the lead in coordinating the event. In addition to getting the toys, gifts and other items organized for the families, this year, the team had a special challenge, which was to get everyone through the event safely and without creating a huge traffic jam.
After multiple meetings and brainstorming sessions, the ACFPA Board members and East Bay Orphan Care volunteers nailed down the perfect way to move the families through the event safely and efficiently while creating a festive experience for all.
Attendees were asked to register in advance, providing names and ages of their children as well as other pertinent information. They were then offered a block of time to attend the event and were asked to stay in their cars with their masks during the entire event. Once they arrived, they were checked in and were directed to drive through a loop, stopping at pre-defined stations to pick up their gifts. These included a Resource Packet from Alameda County Children’s Services, boxed lunches, Christmas cookies and huge red bags filled with goodies.
This year, once again, these amazing red bags containing new clothing, toys and gift cards were donated by our amazing partners at New Life Church, located in Dublin and Alamo, California. Additional toys from Toys for Tots, new clothing from The Children’s Place through our partnership with Good360, and gift cards from East Bay Orphan Care were added to these bags to create 400 total bags ready for distribution and matched to each family.
A very cheerful mood was set by the volunteers in their Christmas attire, Christmas music playing in the background and yes, even Santa Claus was there to wave and say hello to the kids as they drove through the event.
Other big donors included the Church of Latter Day Saints that donated masks, pillow cases, socks and underwear, the Blanket Program in Pleasanton that donated 200 blankets that were distributed during the event and Shiloh Church that donated brand new suitcases for kids as well as new clothing. Finally, we can’t forget the private donors and volunteers who contributed money and time to make this event a huge success. A big thank you to everyone for your amazing generosity and support.
In total, approximately 180 families and 400 children received goods and needed items during the event.
The families appreciated and enjoyed the event greatly, “We want to thank everyone for the fantastic gifts we received at the Christmas drive thru. Everyone was so cheerful and it really meant a lot to us. Thank you so much.”
The ACFPA president, Gwen McWilliams, who herself was present at the event as a volunteer, along with most of the other members of the Board and Felicia Brown, our amazing Liaison from Alameda County Children’s Services, couldn’t have been more thrilled with the turnout.
Everyone’s hard work and preparation really paid off. Rendy summarized the event by saying, “The highlight this year should be the fact that the whole community came together during the pandemic from all walks of life. Everyone understood each other and the hardships we all are facing and wanted to help in any way that they could. It shows that community above all can sacrifice and love in the smallest ways and this makes the biggest impact”.
Thanks again to all of our partners, volunteers and individual donors who made this event possible. We were so excited to be able to end this challenging year with a big celebration for the children.