Orange County Department of Social Services helped make the 2022 holidays brighter for more than 2,400 children and adults through its Toy Chest and sponsorship programs, DSS Director Nancy Coston said.
The sponsorship program pairs donors with families being served by the agency, including foster children, vulnerable adults and seniors and young parents. Total individual adults and children served was 338.
“Sponsors did an incredible job of shopping for perfect gifts and making the holidays special,” Coston said. “Children received toys, games and clothing, and adults received clothing, personal care items and household items, all based on lists developed for each person.”
The Toy Chest program provided toys to more than 2,000 children ages 0-12 years. This program is for low-income families not in the sponsorship program. Because financial donations were down this year, Coston said a decision was made to focus on toys for younger children, although families could shop for books for all children.
"We also want to give a big shout out to Pat Garavaglia and Sharon Collins," said Sharron Hinton, Human Service Manager with Orange County DSS. "For decades these awesome supporters have helped secure sponsors and gifts for all DSS clients and programs. In this year alone, they recruited over half of the sponsors and also provided gifts for the Toy Chest. They and their circle of friends and supporters never fail to deliver and bring joy to our families."
DSS also used ARPA funds and donations to provide additional food during the holidays and the break from school. Many children served by DSS depend on free and reduced lunches through the school systems, so filling this gap was extremely important, Coston said. The department provided more than $68,000 of food and food cards to all families with children, regardless of the age of the children.
Orange County residents have always been generous of their support for families in need, and the donations to these programs brought joy to many. One parent observed: “As I was going through the gifts, there were some moments of tears of joy because I realize that there are people out there with such a beautiful heart.”