Barbies. Legos. A new soccer ball. A warm coat. Christmas time is a time for holiday wishes for boys and girls everywhere. But sometimes even Santa Claus can use a hand in fulfilling a holiday dream.
That is why this year Santa had some helpers from Kaiser Permanente in Walnut Creek. A slew of nearly 100 elves from more than 20 departments gathered their resources to help make Christmas cheerier for 42 families from Meadow Homes Elementary, the Michael Chavez Center and the Monument Community Partnership, all in Concord. The area is in one of Kaiser Permanente’s Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Zones. The HEAL Zones are a targeted, three-year effort by Kaiser Permanente to encourage people in low-income communities to eat better and move more as part of daily life to increase health and decrease obesity.
After nearly a month of gathering and wrapping, organizers of the toy drive delivered enough presents to definitely put smiles on some faces come Christmas morning.
“Our box is completely full, I can hardly lift it,” said a mother with a smile as she struggled to raise a box full of gifts. Parent volunteers at Meadow Homes Elementary helped distribute the presents before school let out for the winter break.
“We provided at least one wrapped gift, or sometimes gift cards for food, to every mom, dad, teen and child in 42 families,” said Danielle Ormsby-Toombs, safety coordinator at Kaiser Permanente’s Medical Center in Walnut Creek, and one of the organizers of the project, nicknamed Good Cheer. “That came out to 167 individuals, including one unborn child!”
“We are grateful that the staff, employees, and physicians of Kaiser Permanente have banded together to make a difference for so many families this holiday season,” said Ana Villalobos, Monument HEAL Zone Manager for the Monument Community Partnership-Michael Chavez Center. “It means so much to the school and the community. Everyone deserves to have a little holiday magic.”
“We didn’t want to relent, “said Oscar Montemayor, environmental health and safety manager at Kaiser Permanente’s Walnut Creek Medical Center. Montemayor spread the word about the toy drive at meetings and through flyers. “We set a goal of helping 40 families and I am so proud of our Kaiser Permanente family for stepping up and making the holidays a bit brighter for so many. People would just open their wallets wanting to help when I explained what we were trying to do. It is a true testament to the power of people, trusting, and wanting to make a difference.”