Santa Barbara residents have a chance to give, just in time for the season of giving.
Macy’s, in conjunction with the Pacific Pride Foundation, is now holding its annual Giving Tree Toy Drive. The drive is affiliated with AIDS Central Coast, an organization under the umbrella of PPF, and will benefit over 100 children locally.
PPF volunteer coordinator John Bowlin said this is the sixth year the organization has conducted the drive with Macy’s.
“The gifts are going to children who are either affected by or infected with HIV/AIDS in Santa Barbara County, meaning children who have a mom or dad or both that are infected by HIV/AIDS,” he said. “We do a gift drive every year. We used to do an adopt-a-family type of program, but instead we do this toy drive, and we have found it to be very successful.”
The Giving Tree is located on the second floor near the escalators. From the tree, gift-givers can take a paper ornament, on which will be the child’s name, age and gifts they are requesting. Gift-givers can then bring the gifts, with the ornament taped to the gift, back to Macy’s by Dec. 16. The items will then be picked up by PPF volunteers, wrapped and delivered to the appropriate families.
Bowlin said the children range in age from newborns to 18-year-olds.
“A lot of our clients are low-income families who are migrant farmers in the Santa Maria area. This drive really helps out and gives the family a good holiday,” he said. “A lot of stuff [the children] ask for is clothing; this really gives them an opportunity to get some warm stuff during the cold season.”
Once they pick up an ornament, gift-givers can choose what to give the child, Bowler said.
“We put a couple of different things on each ornament,” he said. “[The children] will ask for some clothing, a toy and a backpack. It’s up to the person who pulls the name off the tree whether or not they get all of those things.”
This drive is one of the two big events PPF conducts during the holiday season. Bowlin said he is still looking for volunteers for the other event.
“We also conduct a food drive with the postal office,” he said. “Postal carriers put bags out in mailboxes and ask people to put food in it and leave it out for them to pick up the next day. We’re going to receive four tons of food, so we are going to need volunteers that day.”
Macy’s is located in the Paseo Nuevo Mall at 701 State St. For more information, or to volunteer at PPF, contact Bowler at 963-3636, ext. 101.