OCEAN PARK — Georgia Baca loves helping people and in the spirit of holiday giving, last week she was planning a second annual toy giveaway for children who might otherwise not have much of a Christmas.
“Dennis Company gave us $100 to spend on toys,” Baca said. “And we got some kites and toys,” that she believes were from the Kite Festival. Also, some cash donations were collected and she was able to make more purchases with that.
Baca is a member of Pacific Bible Church on 1st Ave. North in Ilwaco. She’s also the creator of Families Helping Families, an organization that she founded four years ago. Every second Saturday from noon to 2 p.m., at the church, Baca and volunteers give away blankets, used clothing for kids and adults, personal hygiene items and even laundry and cleaning supplies for families in need. The toy drive was an extension of that and was included in the Dec. 10 give away at the church.
Last year’s toy giveaway saw more than 90 children receive presents, so the decision was made to repeat it this year. It’s not an event that takes spur-of-the-moment preparation. From her Ocean Park home early last week, Baca smiled and admitted, “I’ve been collecting toys all year.” She hinted that soon after this holiday season, she will start hunting for toys for next year. Anyone wishing to donate throughout the year can contact the church at 642-4844.
Since she began Families Helping Families, other local organizations, including Coastal Community Action (CAP) and the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) can refer families to the program. Ilwaco High School can also provide information through their Parent Resources.
While Pacific Bible Church is able to store a lot of the donated items that are handed out to families, as well as the toys for the toy drive, Baca said she is hoping to find a building where she can move all the merchandise and store it. Sometimes, Baca boxes up a lot of donated goods and stores them at her own home and even in her vehicle.
Baca is able to supply some families with vouchers for Reachout Thrift Store in Long Beach, where they can receive baby, child and adult-sized clothing.
A new project Baca has taken on is the preparation of emergency kits for “people who all of the sudden have a baby at home.” She said this can be due to an infant arriving prematurely, a foster home receiving a new baby or even a grandparent taking on the care of a newborn. There are several scenarios that lead to an unexpected situation where a kit with temporary supplies is welcome.
In the back of her vehicle are stacks of recycled boxes, holding these kits. She opened one last week to sort through the contents. There were tiny hats, bibs, snap front onesies, diapers – a number of necessary items. Each box also had a custom baby quilt, made and donated by quilters from the Peninsula Activity and Senior Center in Ocean Park.
While the kits are primarily for newborns, Baca said she tries to keep items that will fit “zero to nine months.”
Whatever the need, Baca seems to come up with a way to fill it.