Winters Fire seeking donations for Gifts for Kids program

Winters Fire Department is hosting a Gifts For Kids donation drop off and Fill the Boot event on Saturday, Dec. 12 starting at 5 p.m. Photo by Crystal Apilado/Winters Express

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The Winters Fire Department is asking the community for help in supporting their Gifts for Kids holiday program.

WFD annually hosts the Gifts for Kids toy drive to help support families who are facing challenging times and need support in providing their children with toys for the holiday. Fire Captain Art Mendoza said this year the program is especially vital for local families due to challenges from the coronavirus pandemic.

The program underwent a name change in 2019 and is now officially called “Gifts for Kids.” Mendoza said there was confusion with the old name which was being confused with the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots program. 

While the local area’s Marines toy donation program serves all of Yolo County, some Winters families due to hardships may be unable to make the drive to Woodland to participate. Winters Fire’s Gifts for Kids directly serves those who live at a Winters residence.

Winters Fire will be hosting another Fill the Boot and Toy Donation Drop Off event on Saturday, Dec. 12 from 5-8 p.m. on the corner of the Main Street and Railroad Avenue intersection.

Mendoza said they normally get a lot of donations at community events like the Tractor Parade and the Winters Senior Foundation’s annual Christmas event. However, with those events cancelled for the year they have a critical need for toy and monetary donations to help provide gifts.

“The little community events that would support us are not being done this year,” Mendoza said. “The Tractor Parade was huge for us.”

The Winters Senior Foundation board noted in an Letter to the Editor (page B3) they are not postponing their support of the program.

“This has been a difficult year for the children of our community,” Marlene Bell, WSF board member, wrote. “Without their normal routine and their ability to interact with their friends at school, this will be a really important gifting season for our kids.”

The Gifts for Kids program is accepting new, unwrapped toy donations for children ages 0-12. Mendoza noted there is a big need to support gifting efforts for older youth ages 8-12.

Community members who are unable to attend the Dec. 12 donation event are encouraged to:

  • Drop off a toy or monetary donation at the Winters Fire lobby (700 Main St.).
  • Have a gift sent to the Winters Fire Department: Gifts for Kids, 700 Main St., Winters, CA 95694.
  • Make a monetary donation for the Gifts for Kids account at First Northern Bank.

Mendoza said he is also working with local businesses to get donation bins set up around town. Winters Hotel currently has a drop off bin located in their lobby. Mendoza said Pacific Ace Hardware and Turkovich Family Wines have already reached out to find out how they can help in the efforts.

This year’s Gifts for Kids event is serving as a Senior Capstone Project for Winters High School seniors Octavio Diaz and Autumn Mendoza.

He said they have put a lot of hours into the project and applauds their efforts. Especially since due to social distancing guidelines the program has had to rely on only half the amount of volunteers to help get tasks done.

This year’s gift pick up event will be done in a drive-thru fashion. Participants will be notified when the details are finalized.

“It’s going to be a little different this year,” Mendoza said. “We want to make someone smile.”

*Updated to reflect donation bin at Hotel Winters.

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