Annual toy drive focuses on families with children served by the LAA

For the past 15 years, the LAA has been collecting toys and presenting them to families that we serve. This December was no exception, with the LAA giving out gifts to almost 350 boys and girls who will very likely receive no other gifts for Christmas due to their families’ economic hardship.

Thanks to an outpouring of generosity from the community, the LAA collected gift cards, cash donations and hundreds of toys for most of December. The LAA received nearly 400 gifts from the For the Kid in All of Us annual toy party.

On Dec. 18 and 19, the LAA held a spirited holiday party, respectively, in the main office on Buford Highway and in the Norcross service center, so the families could pick up their gifts. Clowns Caramelito, Pitufo and Pitufa, as well as DJ Gino of La Mega Mundial, entertained the children during the festivities. Gino’s Pizza and Taqueria Los Rayos donated food; The Home Depot brought in kits for children so they could build bird houses and tool boxes. McDonald’s provided sponsorship support.

Broadcasters La Mega Mundial and TV Azteca supported Spirit of Giving this year for the first time by helping with the toy collection, publicity and seeking donations and entertainment.

“We were incredibly impressed by the magnitude of support the LAA provides to the local Latino community,” says Mark Klafter, general manager for Azteca America’s east region stations. “I can’t imagine another organization taking on such a task and executing it as flawlessly as the LAA did. It was a thrill to see so many happy children this holiday season.”

The families that benefited from Spirit of Giving include Marta Dominguez, a single mother, and her four kids, aged 10 months to 12 years old. She came to the LAA this year to seek assistance in renewing Medicaid and food stamps for each of them. After taking photos with Santa Claus, the family left the Norcross service center with a bag full of gifts. These are the only presents her kids will receive this Christmas.

Others receiving presents included a family with seven kids who lost their dad and a household with nine children whose father, a construction worker who has a job permit, has seen a reduction in his hours. A single mother with three kids who had to move in with her mother after she lost her job also got gifts.

“Spirit of Giving gives our Latino families the opportunity to celebrate Christmas,” says Nolly Pabón, the Norcross service center manager who started Spirit of Giving 15 years ago. “Most of the families that we select are low income and headed by single mothers; in some cases these women are victims of domestic violence.”

Each year, different families are selected to receive gifts. They must have been served by the LAA in the past year and have dire need for them to be eligible.

“Every year, at least 300 children who we have never given presents to receive gifts,” Pabón says. “If we don’t give them presents, they wouldn’t get any.”