WHITTIER – The Associated Students of Rio Hondo College (ASRHC) launched its annual toy drive Monday, Nov. 23, with a goal of collecting 150 gifts for area children.

Especially needed are gifts for boys and girls ages 9 and older. Also accepted will be clothing, hygiene items for teens and gift cards.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to help make a child’s holiday truly special,” Rio Hondo College Superintendent/President Teresa Dreyfuss said. “I’m proud of how the generosity of our student groups works to strengthen our community, on and off campus.”

ASRHC President William Ashby said the student government is pushing to exceed the 100 gifts it collected in 2014 by offering a $150 prize to the student group that gives the most. The strategy helped boost canned-food collections by about 200 cans during the group’s annual drive in November.

This year, the gifts will be donated to the Whittier Interfaith Food Center, which distributes toys during the holidays in addition to providing food assistance.

“We realized we have a significant need to fulfill locally,” Ashby said. “It seemed right to focus our attention on need in the neighborhoods that surround our campus.”

Donors are asked to drop off unwrapped toys through Thursday, Dec. 10 at a bin at the Rio Hondo College Student Union, 3600 Workman Mill Road, Whittier.

“So many children in our community go without. This is an opportunity to change that,” Rio Hondo Board of Trustees President Madeline Shapiro said.