Sleigh bells were jingling at the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District office over holiday break, as dozens of families in need were invited to take part in the eighth annual Toy Shop gift giveaway and breakfast, held Dec. 22.

Over 175 families were treated to a full-service breakfast and participated in group activities. Parents had their choice of 580 new toys to give as holiday presents for their children and District staff wrapped the presents as part of a community campaign to brighten the holidays for the District’s neediest families.

“Thank you to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education program and our community organizations for supporting our District families during the holidays,” NLMUSD Superintendent Dr. Hasmik Danielian said. “We want to give warmth to our families over winter break and provide the opportunity for them to share precious moments with their loved ones.”

A District holiday tradition since 2009, community organizations donate the toys and gifts every year to the Toy Shop, which is organized by the NLMUSD McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Program.

“We want to give them the Macy’s treatment,” McKinney-Vento Program Coordinator Rosa Barragan said. “For one morning, they don’t have to stand in a line. They get served, they look over and see what toys are available with their shopping guide, they even select the colors on their gift wrap and write personal holiday wishes for their children.”

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Education program supports homeless and foster youths to ensure they receive the same access to education as their peers. The program provides counseling services and helps families in transitional housing – which includes families in shelters or sharing a household with multiple families – find permanent homes.

“We recognize that our students’ well-being at home is very important for their success in the classroom,” Board of Education President Sean Reagan said. “The strong support from our community partnerships allows us to offer more opportunities to our students and families, no matter their background.”

Among the organizations that are perennial donors to the Toy Shop are the California Highway Patrol, Care1st Health Plan and Schools on Wheels, along with state Sen. Tony Mendoza and Assemblyman Ian Calderon. The Toy Shop also receives support from District staff, the After School and Safety Program, Nutritional Services and Corvallis Middle School.


011117_NLMUSD_TOYSHOP: Students and community members help gift wrap toys at Norwalk-La Mirada Unified’s eighth annual Toy Shop on Dec. 22.