From the Heart hosts holiday toy giveaway

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Gifts await their recipients at the From The Heart Christian Women’s Ministries toy giveaway at the Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Anza Thursday, Dec. 19. Anza Valley Outlook/Courtesy photo

Amid squeals of joy and oohs and ahhs, hundreds of toys were handed out at the annual From The Heart Christian Women’s Ministry toy giveaway at the Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Anza Thursday, Dec. 19.

After weeks of preparation, the hundreds of donations, with many hours of organizing and wrapping, the gifts were ready to for the eager arms of over 500 deserving local children and teens.

Organization for the event began in September, fueled by year-round fundraising. The women spent many hours shopping for individual gifts to meet both the wants and needs of local children.

Over 1,000 presents were given away at the event. Local fire stations 77 and 29 included their Sparks of Love toy donations for the event.

“Wow! What a night!” organizer Christina James said. “The gift giveaway was a huge success. We had 503 kids and a total of 185 families this year. Thank you all for making Christmas possible for so many.”

Several community groups helped by adopting specific children of families, financially or through donated gifts.

“Without all of you, none of this would be possible,” James said. “Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, Living Hope Church, Anza Electric Cooperative, CityReach Church, High Country Calvary Chapel, Rancho Chapel, Rancho California RV Resort, T.O.P.S., Hamilton High School, Hamilton K-8, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Anza Latter-day Saints church, Templo de Resurreccion, Anza Quilters Club, Cahuilla Casino and our local Cal Fire Station with their Spark of Love toys! We have such generous groups and churches in our town.”

The toy giveaway grows every year, thanks to donors, organizers and local charities, James said.

Volunteer Brenda Campos said, “Thank you for everything, you are a true blessing to our community. I was very happy to be able to help a little this year, for the first time. I look forward to being able to help more in the future.”

From The Heart Christian Women’s Ministries serves and focuses on families and children in need in the mountain communities of Anza, Aguanga, Mountain Center and Idyllwild. Fundraising events are held throughout the year to help collect money to aid this worthy cause.

From the Heart raises funds for these activities through rummage sales, luncheons, raffles and their annual holiday dinner.

To learn more about From The Heart Christian Women’s Ministries, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/groups/115200731856938/about or write to: From The Heart Christian Women’s Ministries, P.O. Box 391224, Anza, CA 92539.

Diane Sieker can be reached by email at dsieker@reedermedia.com.