An impressive 1,200 families in Contra Costa County benefited from the Annual Richmond/El Cerrito Fire & Police Holiday Toy Program this year, which is a special year since the charity event’s founder, Rod Woods, is retiring from the Richmond Fire Department.
Woods started the program 28 years ago, while he was driving to Concord to deliver toys collected at West County fire stations for a separate charity drive. He wondered why toys weren’t being distributed locally. Suddenly, he pulled over in the area of Cutting Boulevard and Harbour Way in Richmond and began handing them out to local kids. This action prompted a police officer to stop and assist him.
Woods later started a local toy collection drive that has since grown exponentially. On Saturday, police and fire officials and other volunteers handed out heaps of gifts and food at the E.M. Downer YMCA in Richmond.
Along with 1,200 food holiday meal food bags and toys, about 500 bicycles were donated. Santa Claus even appeared to delight children and snap photos.
Employees from Parker Hannifin Veriflo Division, a Richmond company that manufactures valves and regulators for the semiconductor industry, along with their business partners MKT, NCL and a few others, combined funds to buy 245 children’s bicycles for the holiday toy drive. Veriflo has 234 employees in Richmond, some of whom spent a recent weekend building the bikes.
“They even had a QA (Quality Assurance) section to ensure each nut and bolt was snug and the bikes were built up to spec,” according to the Richmond Police Department. “Talk about giving back to the community!”
Mechanics Bank also contributed bikes toward the effort. The Richmond Rotary Club also raised $12,000 toward bikes.
Generous donation came from Chevron Richmond, and also individuals, other businesses and even local schools, via both monetary contributions and new, unwrapped toys.
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