A nice meal along with a thoughtful gift can give a needy family a joyful holiday.
The 10th annual Glendale College Police Toy and Food Drive “helps students that are less fortunate than others,” said Nidal Kobaissi, police specialist. “We try to find the students that have the most need and help them. Everything that we collect directly benefits students only; we don’t give anything outside the college,” he said.
The main purpose of having this program “is to help the students that need the little bit of extra help during the holiday season,” Kobaissi said.
Kobaissi said the perception is that some people become afraid when they see the police. “Our thing is we don’t want you to be afraid when you see the police, we want you to be glad when you see the police. We have to give tickets sometimes for a living so why don’t we give out things that are nice?” he said.
This year GCC’s Comedy Club is collaborating with campus police by helping collect the donations from the boxes that are located all over campus. Mathew Chanal, is a comedy club member who is one of the people in charge of picking up the donations. Chanal said that it makes him feel good picking up the donations because “when I’m carrying the stuff, people ask me what I’m doing and I tell them, `I’m picking up the food for the needy who don’t have much to eat this Christmas.’ It feels good because I’m helping by spreading the word.”
According to Police Clerk, Estine Shahverdian, a couple of days before distributing the food and presents, the police review the applications and decide which families will get the donations.
Shahverdian, who has worked the Food and Toy Drive previously, said that some of the houses she’s been too “really need everything that you give them.”
“We don’t realize how many low-income families there are on campus. Sometimes you when you go to their houses and you see how they don’t have a Christmas tree, and don’t have food, your heart goes out for them,” she said.
Students attending GCC who wish to apply for the food and toy drive can pick up an application at the campus police station. All of the information provided will be kept confidential. Donations made for the program can range from canned food, toys other non-perishable donations and monetary donations.
Checks can be placed in the GCC police mail box or dropped off at the police station, and food donated must not be opened. “We’ve had people who brought opened-canned food, or sometimes they would bring beans that they found in their cabinets,” said Shahverdian. “Those we can’t use, we won’t give the families things that have been opened or that have been used. Other than that, we try to give out everything away.”
According to campus police, with the monetary donations more toys and food are bought. The toys bought all depends on how many families applied for the program and how many kids are in the families who will receive the donations.
“For example, sometimes we may get more toys for girls and not enough toys for the boys between ages 9 and 12, so we go out and buy more toys for boys between ages nine and 12,” Kobaissi said.
Extra food is also bought to make meals that will be donated to the families as complete as as possible.
“You don’t want to give somebody a can of peas,” Kobaissi said. “You want to give someone some food that they can stock.” Kobaissi said that in the past they used to buy the ingredients and make the families dinner from scratch.
“[Other times] we would buy the turkey the potatoes and vegetables and we’d package it to provide them with a dinner,” he said. “[Last year] we gave out ready-to-cook meals. All they had to do is heat the meal.”
New unwrapped toys for boys and girls, non-perishable food items and monetary donations are examples of donations that can be donated. Donations can may be dropped off at the police station in the Sierra Madre building, Room 153. Checks should be made payable to Happy Holiday Fund.
Last year the Toy and Food Drive accumulated $1,150. “That was the most that we’ve ever collected. For the most part it’s the same people who donate every year that you can count on donating large sums of money,” Kobaissi said. Monetary donations are tax deductible.
This year the police department will distribute the donations on Dec. 23 and 24 in the morning. If the family is not going to be home when the distributions occurs then the family can arrange picking up the donations at the police station.
“I think we should do this more often not just for the holidays,” said Jasmine Bonilla, a Comedy Club member. “It seems people remember the poor during the holidays and say `oh that’s it, I did my deed.’ It shouldn’t be like that because people are hungry all the time; people aren’t hungry just on holidays.”
Shahverdian said that her favorite part of the program is to “see the looks on their [kids’] faces when they open up their gifts; it’s priceless. It’s a really good program and it helps out a lot of people.”