The Friday after Thanksgiving officially marks the opening of the LAFD Toy Program, which runs for six weeks. LA City is the lead agency for all of Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties. Even toys donated through sites set up by ABC7 are filtered through “Toy Central,” the drill floor at Frank Hotchkin Memorial Training Center.
According to Program Coordinator Mike Marquez, “The cadets are the ones that make this thing work. Some of them are here for hundreds of hours each. They come from Posts 27, 94, Crew 3, 12, and 64, just to name a few.”
Every toy that comes through Toy Central must be counted, sorted, allocated and distributed. It’s a huge warehouse type operation with very intricate logistics. After the cadets sort the toys, they are allocated to more than 700 certified charitable organizations. The toys are transported to the closest fire station to the requesting organization for distribution by the firefighters there.
The success of the program each year can be attributed to all of the hard work from all of the wonderful volunteers, as well as the media partnerships. KABC TV’s “Spark of Love” campaign is an invaluable resource for getting the word out to the community.