LANCASTER — Union employees from BYD Coach & Bus conducted their first toy drive this year, and it was a success, as employees donated about 800 toys and clothing.
They distributed the gifts Friday morning at Penny Lane Center.
Penny Lane is a nonprofit organization that provides therapeutic residential services, foster family home placements, adoption services, transitional and affordable housing, family preservation, intensive services and mental health services for children youth and families throughout Los Angeles County.
The toy drive was union effort by members of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, or SMART Local 105. BYD assisted by providing an electric bus and giving employees the time off to deliver the gifts.
“I think we could not have picked a better place than Penny Lane,” union organizer Willy Solorzano said.
The nonprofit organization cares for over 3,500 abused and neglected children, youth and families a month countywide.
“I think helping the community is always a good thing, but providing a smile for the kids at the holidays it’s a plus; it’s a win-win,” Soloranzo said, adding they expected about 300 boys and girls.
BYD provided a bus and also chipped in about $500. Individual employees also donated money used to purchase clothing and toys.
Some BYD employees were in the Penny Lane system as children, Soloranzo said.
“Now they’re in the other side, they’re giving back. They’re overwhelmed with joy they are able to give back,” Solaranzo said.
The workers emptied a electric bus packed with toys and placed the toys in a room where Santa waited for the children to join him.
“I thought it was amazing because we have so many families here that are in need, and it’s just a beautiful opportunity and especially up here in the AV because we don’t get many opportunities. … It’s nice when they can come here,” said Felicia Ramirez, a supervisor with Penny Lane.
Children 11 and younger received a toy and children ages 12 and older received clothes. Each child got an opportunity to get a picture with Santa.
Lupe Valdez brought her three boys — Ernesto Rivera, 18 months, Jonathan Garcia, 12, and Noel Anguao, 6 — to Penny Lane so they could receive gifts.
Jonathan received a Hot Wheels set he deemed “good.”
“Oh, yes; it’s very nice,” Valdez said of the toy giveaway.
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