Fairbanks Ranch Gifting Group collecting toys for homeless children

The Gifting Group, an all-student run organization led by Fairbanks Ranch and Solana Santa Fe kids, is hosting its seventh annual toy drive for San Diego homeless children.

Teaming up this year with the Fairbanks Ranch Social Committee, The Gifting Group is looking for donations of new, unwrapped toys for children ages 0-12 — the toys will be distributed by the San Diego Coalition for the Homeless, a nonprofit that has provided help and hope to families and children in need since 1979.

Donations will be collected from now until Fairbanks Ranch’s Winter Wonderland event on Dec. 7.

The Gifting Group is led by Fairbanks Ranch residents Ali Youel and Annie Richard, both juniors at Canyon Crest Academy.

This group has been collecting toys and donating them to the San Diego Coalition for the Homeless since 2010.

Ali and Annie said they got the idea after going holiday shopping downtown seven years ago and seeing a number of homeless children. It was upsetting to them to know that those children likely wouldn’t be experiencing the same kind of holiday that they would. They found out about the efforts of the San Diego Coalition and got a group of kids together to help them run a toy drive.

“Over the years we collected more and more toys and our efforts got bigger and bigger,” Annie said. “We’ve delivered over 1,000 toys to homeless children and we hope to make an even bigger contribution this year.”

The group’s efforts involve spreading the word among their community and friends and sometimes partnering with local elementary schools such as Solana Santa Fe. This year they are targeting their Fairbanks Ranch neighbors.

A donation box is set up at the Fairbanks Ranch neighborhood clubhouse and the group will be at the Winter Wonderland event to accept donations. The Gifting Group will then all come together to wrap the donated toys which will be distributed at the San Diego Coalition for the Homeless’ “Holiday Magic for Kids” party on Dec. 16 at Golden Hall.

Last year over 2,500 low-income and homeless families received boxes of food and every child received toys, stocking stuffers and lots of holiday cheer.

“It feels great honestly, it gives me such a happy feeling inside,” Annie said. “We live in such a fortunate community and it’s awesome to have an opportunity to help those who are less fortunate.”

Donations of new unwrapped toys or monetary donations are due by Dec. 7 at the Fairbanks Ranch Clubhouse. For questions, text Annie Richard at 612-747-2271.

The San Diego Coalition for Homeless is also looking for help to make its holiday party a success. They are seeking volunteers, donations of candy canes, gift wrap, non-perishable food, turkeys and ham and monetary donations. For more information, visit bit.ly/2z4fIk6

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