In an effort to ensure that the families of their local community had a Christmas to celebrate, the volunteers and founders of Greetings with Gratitude held a Newhall toy giveaway Friday.
In addition to having a variety of toys and school supplies to handout to kids and their families, those who attended the event could also leave with some food and a Christmas tree to place their gifts under.
“This is our 12th year doing this on Christmas Day,” said Neil Roemer, who founded Greetings with Gratitude alongside his sister Danica Lynch. “Typically, we go down to Skid Row and we work with the Fred Jordan Mission … but because of COVID restrictions, we’re locals, we grew up out here … and we decided to move it here and make it a little safer by doing the drive-thru deal.”
As the morning went on, families from the nearby Newhall neighborhood walked over from throughout Santa Clarita, arriving to peruse the freely distributed toys. Roemer, who works in the film industry, used his company’s trucks, along with his coworkers who volunteered their time, to move the toys and gifts to a display table.
“I think the need is just as much, whether it’s on Skid Row or whether it’s here,” said Lynch. “As you can see, during these times we’re faced with a big crisis, and there are people that are in need.”
Roemer said the reason he and his sister have been putting on this event through their charity was in honor of their grandfather, who had done similar acts of kindness during the holiday season.
“I think it’s more impactful in a smaller community because with Skid Row there’s thousands of kids,” said Roemer. “I think this is a lot more organized, and I think you can see it’s more intimate with the kids and the families, seeing their smiles. I think that’s a bigger difference: smaller community, bigger impact.”
Both Lynch and Roemer said the work they put in on Christmas morning, and in the days leading up to the event, were all made worth it once they saw the joy, and sometimes tears, of those receiving gifts this Christmas.
In total, approximately $7,500 in donations were distributed by Greetings with Gratitude this Christmas.
Those looking to see about making future donations to the charity or getting involved are invited to visit their charity’s Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/greetingswithgratitude.