The 26th edition of Casinotook place at the Paso RoblesEvent Center.

PASO ROBLES – More than 500 families received help on the 26th annual Christmas gift day on Saturday the 12th. December, at the PASO ROBLES events centre.

It’s very important to me now because I only work two days a week, says Maira Calderon of Paso Robles. This year was a little rough. It’s a blessing.

This free event is organized every year by the Big Paso Robles Toy Bank with the help of the community. In accordance with the guidelines of KOVID-19, this year’s fundraising day took place in the spacious Adelaide Room.

Everyone who came was very grateful, said Amanda Beene, who is the coordinator of the fundraising day and co-chairman of the board of directors of the toy bank. You realize this is a strange year and it won’t always be like this. The people have been very merciful and understand that this year is different. Luckily, everyone takes care of it.

Beane, 29 years old, said that when planning began a few months ago, safety was his top priority.

We all agreed that if we could guarantee everyone’s safety, we’d go the extra mile to make that happen, and I think we did, Beane said.

On the day of the donation, the toy bank will provide toys, games, playground balls, animal scarecrows, books, decorative and applied arts. All donations are made by event and community sponsors or purchased with donations from residents and businesses.

People have just been super generous this year, said Maribet Bonomi, co-chairman of Toy Bank. Super, super generous. I felt that people understood that we all have a need now, and everyone is receptive to that need.

The hall provided space for seven overcrowded toy stations. Thousands of unpacked toys with names and brands were placed on tables according to gender and age. One or two volunteers formed a team at each station when the first families arrived at 8 a.m. and for the last station, which was scheduled for about 3 pm.

Families with children in Paso Robles, San Miguel, Shandon, Bradley and at the Heritage Ranch receive toys, clothing and gift vouchers on the day of donation. Libby Lemm and her husband Rolley founded the local toy bank and gift day.

Officially, 545 families registered for Gift Day in Paso Robles, a record number of almost 1,200 family benefits.

We have a lot more families than last year, Mr. Bean said. This year we have many more new families, which is good for us. We’re just glad people found us and that we were able to find them.

Families had to register online in advance and receive an email or text message with a specific time to visit the Paso Robles event site.

Upon arrival they waited in their car until they received a phone call or text message to go to the entrance of the Adelaide lobby.

Only one person per family could enter the lobby. Only ten families were allowed to enter the lobby at the same time. Every person in the lobby was required to wear a mask and gloves and sign documents before entering the lobby. We’ve measured everyone’s temperature.

Inside they went from table to table, depending on the age and gender of their children, pointing out the gifts the volunteers had collected and put in their oversized plastic bags.

In addition to toys, stuffed animals and family games, the Salvation Army provided families with food gift cards.

After leaving the building they took off their gloves and walked to their car.

Overall, Bonomi and Bean agreed that the event went well and that the changes had led to less passion than in previous years.

It’s very safe. Everything is simple and organized, and there are a lot of choices, Bonomi said. It’s very beautiful. People are really happy. It’s cute, actually. You’ve got a place to settle down. It’s a good day.

It has been a difficult year for many people, and the Toy Bank was grateful to spend Gift Day again.

You can’t see them laughing, but there was a lot of gratitude and fun during the Christmas holidays, Bean said. People were excited. It’s good to have something halfway normal, even if it’s different.

The toy bank accepts donations all year round. People can donate online at prtoybank.org or send a check to Toy Bank or Greater Paso Robles, P.O. for payment. Box 2801, Paso Robles, CA 93447. For more information, please visit www.prtoybank.org.

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