SMART Toy Giveaway

HOLIDAY FUN — Brothers Noel An­guao, 6, left, and Jonathan Gar­cia, 12, right, visit Friday at Penny Lane Center with Santa Claus during distribution of toys collected by BYD Coach & Bus union employees.

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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