BRENTWOOD -- A small room in the corner of the Delta First 5 Center dubbed "Santa's Closet" overflowed with toys this week for far East Contra Costa children whose parents are struggling with the financial stresses of the holidays.

The downtown Brentwood First 5 location is giving out more toys than ever this year and even extending its holiday giveaway to families from the Village Community Resource Center, where there are many fiscally challenged and single-parent households. This year, Delta First 5 was flooded with donations from near and far.

In addition to the ongoing generosity of Willy's Bagels with toy and clothing donations, Delta First 5, as part of its managing organization, ASPIRAnet, is receiving toys all week from the annual toy drive hosted by Starbucks. More than 300 Starbucks in California collected toys for agencies like ASPIRAnet, according to Delta First 5 Center Director Debbie Ogle.

"We have been fortunate with the amount of generosity for our families," Ogle said, noting that local Starbucks locations hosted toy drives as well. "There is a huge capacity for giving in this community. This time of the year, (local residents) extend themselves to the families around them."


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Oakley mom Diane VonSchopp picked up a doll and truck for her 3- and 6-year-old children. She said that toy giveaways like this are a huge help to financially strapped parents like herself.

"It is a big help for parents. I lost my job, and my husband lost his job, also," she said.

In addition to distributing gifts, this week's Winter Celebration at the center featured face painting, holiday crafts and light refreshments for parents and children. It was attended by several dozen families who are registered with the center for classes and programs designed for children ages birth to 5.

"It is important to be able to provide children who visit the center with toys and their siblings as well. This takes some of the holiday burden off families," Ogle said.

Additionally, a nonprofit organization called Love 4 Our Neighbors adopted 10 families and provided clothing and food to them. This included families from Village Drive and Welcome Home Baby, which is a home-visiting program that provides resources and developmental screenings and information to families countywide.

"The main goal is to make sure (children) are developing normally," said Jeannina Mora of Welcome Home Baby.

Children this week were also eager to play in the center's new playhouse from Habitat for Humanity.

Reach Paula King at 925-779-7174 or pking@bayareanewsgroup.com.