The organizers for the annual Beach Cities Toy Drive and wrapping party knew the children they collect toys for still needed some happiness in their lives, especially during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
So instead of cancelling the 28th annual event, they eliminated the popular wrapping party because of COVID-19 concerns.
But toy donations will still be accepted through two drive-thru dates on Dec. 5 and 12, as well as at drop off locations at Hermosa Beach’s fire and police stations through Dec. 19, when the toys will be distributed.
“It’s a great time of year and it’s good that we can help the kids out, that’s the main thing,” said Pete Tucker who helps keep the tradition going with many other volunteers. “We got a lot of kids that really wouldn’t get anything at Christmas time if it weren’t for the charities.”
The Beach Cities Toy Drive was started in 1992 by former councilmembers in Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach as a friendly competition to see who could collect the most toys. The toys are then donated to underprivileged children across the South Bay through various charities including 1736 Family Crises Center and the Richstone Family Center.
Manhattan Beach Councilmember Richard Montgomery said that the city did not have the manpower this year so Hermosa Beach took over.
"There are drop-offs in Hermosa Beach, but nothing in Manhattan Beach," Montgomery said. "Our police and fire lobbies are closed and locked, so toys can't be dropped off here, no one is around to get them."
Tucker said nearly 200 people participate each year in the wrapping party, but this year the children will receive the toys unwrapped because of COVID-19 concerns.
“That was always a fun part of watching everybody come in and wrap these toys,” Tucker said. “It was like a toy tornado wrapping party. We probably wrapped. I would guess, on average probably over 8,000 toys in the span of about two and a half hours.”
The drive-thru events are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 5 and 12 at the Hermosa Beach City Hall parking lot at 540 Pier Ave.
Unwrapped new toys can also be donated at the Fire Station and Police Department, located at 540 Pier Ave., through Dec. 19.