Week after week, this year food pantries have held drive through distributions to feed Orange County residents.

Now with unemployment benefits timing out for some, food pantries are closing out the year with more distributions and giving out toys to make sure some children still get presents this holiday season.

This week, the Power of One Foundation has held several drive through light shows they call Winter Wonderland as a way to distribute food to people and get toys to kids. The foundation has partnered with the city of Costa Mesa to set up the annual Snoopy House holiday display at the events.

The Snoopy House display has been an Orange County tradition that dates back to the 1960s.

The first two events the Power of One Foundation held this week was on Dec. 16 and 17 in which the price of admission was one toy donation per car. Families had to register in advance to attend the light shows.

“For these events, we sold out in three hours,” said Andre Roberson, the president and executive director of the nonprofit. 

Over 1,000 families registered for each of those nights to donate a toy and experience some holiday festivities.

The event held today from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. at the Ikea in Costa Mesa for 600 registered families will not be required to donate a toy but instead will receive a toy.

The foundation will also be giving out toys to another 600 registered families in Santa Ana from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Magnolia Science Academy on Sunday. Then on Monday they’re heading over to Disney to distribute toys, food and diapers from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

The Disney distribution also requires registration.

Roberson this is not a normal Christmas here in the U.S. with new lockdown orders and businesses having to close down again.

“This is strictly for the kids,” Roberson said. “They’re riding through here and the only cost was a toy so they’re paying it forward to help another kid who wouldn’t have gotten a toy this year.” 

These events will be the last distributions Power of One holds this year and project by the end of 2020 they will have fed 2 million people.

Next year Roberson said the nonprofit will have to scale back because of lack of funding. The nonprofit has grown this year and their resources are spread thin as they help other organizations as well.

He added that they will try and bring in new donors.

The Community Action Plan of Orange County has also partnered up with the Power of One Foundation to hold one of their last massive food distribution of the year at the OC Fair this Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. no registration required.

The Community Action Plan of Orange County has also been holding financial empowerment workshops in partnership with Wells Fargo where they teach people how to budget and cover topics like debt management during the pandemic. The program started a few years back.

The United Across Borders Foundation is holding a drive through toy and grocery distribution this weekend as well at the Angel Stadium in Anaheim.

The distribution starts at 8 a.m. until supplies last on a first come first serve basis. Each car will get one bag of food and if a child is present in the car they will be given a toy.

Last weekend, the Sikh Center of Orange County food pantry held their own holiday drive where they donated books, clothes, toys and sanitation items as well as food.

“We just wanted to bring a smile to people’s faces. It’s been a tough year so whatever we can do to help we wanted to try but we wanted to make sure that food was still a big part of it because food insecurity is greater than ever and with benefits going away, jobs going away –  food was was definitely something we wanted to do — that’s who we are. ” said Bandana Singh, the director of the food pantry.

Singh said over 1,200 cars came to the holiday drive and that some of the items were donated and some the pantry bought.

This weekend the pantry will host their regular food distribution at the Sikh Center in Santa Ana from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. or until supplies last. This will be their last one of the year.

The Orange County Rescue Mission, a Christian organization based in Tustin that houses and helps the homeless, is in need of food and holiday gift donations like clothes, books and toys to help provide gifts for homeless people and families at their facilities.

Typically the organization holds its own holiday celebrations but the pandemic has made it tricky for them this year.

“This year, because of COVID, we’re just allowing the homeless parents to go through one section and pick out gifts for their kids and wrap it and then at the same time, the kids go through a different section and pick out a gift for their parents and wrap it. So we don’t have the volunteers or the entertainment or the snow and things like that happening like we would normally do,” said Jim Palmer, the president of the organization.

Palmer told the Voice of OC that they’ve had about 75% reduction in the number of food and gifts they’d receive this year due to the pandemic.

The organization faced the same challenge during Thanksgiving.

Palmer said this is the time of year many people are thinking of others and hopes spreading the word will help them get the resources they need. They hope to start giving out the gifts next week.

“We don’t want children to become the victim of the challenges of this time. It’s important that the kids aren’t left out,” Palmer said.

For anybody in need of food, pantries across Orange County are handing it out for free. For more food assistance options visit 211 OC.

Places to Donate & Distributions

Those who wish to volunteer or donate may reach out to them through the channels listed below.

Upcoming distributions  include:

Power of One Foundation

Saturday Dec. 19 from 8 -12 a.m. at the OC Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa.

88 Fair Dr, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

United Across Borders Foundation

Toy & Grocery  Distribution on Saturday Dec. 19 from 8 a.m. until supplies last at Angel stadium in Anaheim

2000 E. Gene Autry Way, Anaheim, CA 92806

Orange County Rescue Mission

To donate contact Ashley at 714-247-4300 or email ashley.binder@rescuemission.org for more information.

Sikh Center of Orange County Food Pantry

Saturday Dec. 19 from 8:00-10:30 a.m. or until supplies last at the Gurudwara 

2530 Warner Ave., Santa Ana, CA 92704

714 584 7573

Laguna Food Pantry 

Every Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-10:30 a.m. (Closed 12/25)

20652 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

949 497 7121

Vineyard Anaheim Church

Monday from 11 a.m.-12 p.m. at SALK Elementary (Closed 12/28)

1411 Gilbert St. Anaheim, CA 92804

Wednesday & Thursday from 9-11 a.m. at the Vineyard Anaheim Church 

(Closed 12/30 &12/31)

5340 E La Palma Ave. Anaheim, CA 92807 

Saturday from 9-11 a.m. at the Brookhurst Community Center (Closed 1/2)

2271 Crescent Ave. Anaheim, CA 92801

If you operate a drive through food pantry in Orange County and would like our newsroom to be aware of your efforts, reach out to Hosam Elattar at helattar@voiceofoc.org or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.

Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC Reporting Fellow. Contact him @helattar@voiceofoc.org or on Twitter @ElattarHosam


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