BRAWLEY — As hundreds of people lined up Sunday outside the American Citizen Club for the annual toy giveaway, club vice president Tony Gallegos sounded happy but somewhat concerned.
“I hope we’ve got enough presents,” said Gallegos as he saw the line growing by the minute and becoming much longer than it was at the same time last year.
And yet, when asked about how this year’s giveaway is different from previous ones, Gallegos expressed more confidence.
Thanks to the business community and the farming industry, this year the event doubled in size, said Gallegos.
This help was great, “because there are a lot of children and families in need,” he said.
In addition, the event also got entertainment from the Brawley Union High School Glee Club, which shortly before the giveaway started was still practicing.
The number of bicycles donated to be raffled also tripled in numbers, he said, and added that on top of that, a secret “Santa Claus” gave more than $2,000 for decorations.
“We were very, very blessed this year,” said club president Barbara Olivo. “We are getting donations even today.”
But perhaps the ones who felt blessed the most were the children who got a free gift and lunch, as well as some minutes with Santa Claus
Though some cried in Santa’s arms out of fear, most like Brawley resident Logan Sanchez, 5, weren’t afraid at all.
Logan smiled and hugged Santa before getting his gift and saying, “Thank you.”
Parents like Martha Valdez from Brawley were also thankful.
Her five children got each a present, which is a great help for her household during Christmas time simply because of all the children she has.
“This (giveaway) is unity,” said Valdez in Spanish when asked about what she thought of the event.
Westmorland resident Angela Cota was also appreciative of the giveaway. Her four children, all younger than 7 years old, got a present.
“This means a lot because we don’t have much money to be buying gifts,” said Cota.
Shortly after, Gallegos was seen walking nearby.
Nearly 400 children received gifts.
“That’s more than what I thought,” he said. “We are going to need more gifts.”
Members of club indeed went to buy more presents, and kept the toy giveaway going much longer than expected and usual.
Once the toy giveaway was over, the raffling of more than 30 bicycles began.
Cecilia Aguilera, 12, who won the first bicycle raffled last year, was in the crowd, holding her ticket.
“I enjoyed it a lot,” said Cecilia of her bicycle, which some months ago she decided to give it to her cousin, “because she needs it more than me.”
When asked if she was going to win, she said, “Hopefully. I saw a purple one that I always wanted.”
And even if she didn’t win, Cecilia said, “I’m going to be happy because at least I got a present.”
But Cecilia was more than happy, because once again and against the odds, Cecilia won a bicycle.
“Can you believe it?” said Gallegos while referring to Cecilia. “And her brother got one too.”
Staff Writer Alejandro Davila can be reached at 760-337-3445 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Join the discussion and add your comments to this story! Scroll down or click here and tell us what you think.