Orange County Transportation Authority
For the seventh consecutive year, the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) is teaming up with a local TV news station and generous community members to bring cheer and good fortune to those in need by stuffing buses to capacity with donated toys.
Held the week before Christmas, the annual Stuff-A-Bus toy drive collects toys that are distributed to children throughout Orange County through the Spark of Love effort.
“The generosity of the public is inspiring, even during this tough economy,” says OCTA CEO Will Kempton. “It is a tradition for many families to come and donate toys and it’s a rewarding experience to engage the community in such a wonderful cause.”
Hours before dawn, donors begin dropping off toys — some with a few and others with truckloads — and local ABC7 news is on-site to greet the public and broadcast live throughout the day.
The event, also sponsored by Honda Center and the Anaheim Ducks, draws hundreds of individuals and groups. There are young children who want to hop on the bus and drop off a single toy, a group of a dozen or more motorcycle riders that roll in with toys, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department equestrian team that parades through Honda Center parking lot with each rider carrying a sack of toys and even a local tribal casino that packed a bus of its own and then unloaded it to fill an OCTA bus.
“Seeing so many people come out to help kids who may otherwise not have a joyful holiday gives a whole new meaning to the season,” says Brian Reichert, a recently retired OCTA coach operator who played Santa Claus during the event. “It is something I looked forward to every year and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to be a part of it to bring so much cheer to those who need it.”
The amount of toys collected continues to grow each year. Last year, two 60-foot, 22-ton OCTA articulated buses and three 40-foot buses were filled with more than 15,000 toys. Hopes are high to beat that in 2010.
The Spark of Love is sponsored by firefighters from throughout Southern California and has been collecting and distributing toys for the past 16 years. Each year, ABC7 partners with local transit agencies to host similar events throughout the holiday season to collect toys for the program.
Motor Coach Industries
Stuffed with snacks, videos, motorcycle magazines and more, holiday gift boxes were mailed to overseas troops by workers at Motor Coach Industries, the nation’s leading builder of intercity coaches, headquartered in Schaumburg, Ill. This was the second MCI Support our Troops drive held during the year. MCI’s August Soldier Adoption Event included a similar effort that collected specific items such as toiletries, sewing kits and boot socks along with other items on soldiers’ wish lists.
“Since our first event went so well, we wanted to do more, especially during the holidays, since troops are so far from home,” says Pamela Lawrence, senior administrative assistant.
As with its initial event, MCI reached out to coworkers to be sure their family members or friends serving overseas would get a holiday care-package sent to them, too. All together, MCI shipped more than a hundred boxes filled to the gills with all sorts of goodies.
“Our troops work hard for us overseas,” says Bonnie Kroll, customer solutions support specialist. “These care packages are a sign of our gratitude and will hopefully brighten their day.”
Thousand Palms, Calif.
SunLine Transit Agency
The holiday season — a time to celebrate successes, spend quality time with family and friends and to reach out to those in the community who are in need.