A clinic employee makes sure that low-income children spend happy holidays with toys.

Several children from Pico Rivera arrived at their local AltaMed clinic to receive their medical or dental service and some were invited by the clinic staff. What all these children did not know was that Santa Claus was waiting for them with gifts in the conference room of the building.

"We didn't know we were going to receive toys," said Emanuel Arias, 10, who chose a board game. He came into the living room thinking he would receive a toothbrush.

“A cart,” added his brother Eduardo Arias, 8, who showed his excited toy.

Stephanie Collier took one of her children to the doctor to the clinic without knowing that in the adjacent room they would be waiting for her with toys for their two children of 1 and 7 years.

Little Jaylen Collier received a gift from Santa Claus and had the opportunity to talk with him. (Jacqueline García / The Opinion)

“It makes me something great to give us gifts because many families do not have the means to buy Christmas gifts for their children,” said the excited mom while her little ones took pictures with Santa Claus. "It is a blessing."

The toy delivery was part of an initiative that began 20 years ago Maggie Escobar, executive relations assistant at AltaMed.

She remembers receiving a call from the elected official, now deceased, Marco Antonio Firebaugh who desperately needed toys for children in need in the city of Cudahy. Escobar quickly raised $ 100 with his colleagues, bought toys and delivered them to the Firebaugh office that same day.

This act of kindness was a motivation for Escobar to continue the tradition of collecting donations with his co-workers and other local donors so that every year, for two decades, the tradition of bringing smiles to children continues when they receive their toys.

This year, Escobar raised more than $ 9,000 to buy toys for children arriving at AltaMed throughout the month of December.

"We are taking toys to several community clinics so that low-income children participate," Escobar said. "After today the clinics will continue to give toys until they are finished."

Escobar said that every year he is very excited to see the children happy with their toys. For many of them that is the only chance they have of receiving toys.

For Escobar this is a season that reaches her heart especially because she as a single mother experienced very complicated moments, but thanks to the generosity of others, she managed to give her children a beautiful Christmas.

"I really like doing this job," said Escobar, who happily supervised the delivery of toys.

The dental unit also participates

For four years, the AltaMed dental unit has joined Escobar's work by inviting Santa Claus to deliver the toys himself and take a picture with the children.

Maggie Escobar with Santa Claus (Mark A. Bauman) and Alfredo Gutiérrez during the toy distribution Monday at AltaMed de Pico Rivera. (Jacqueline García / The Opinion)

"Those who participate here are a combination between arriving patients and those who heard about toy delivery," said Alfredo Gutierrez, leader of the dental unit. “The picture is taken with Santa Claus and they can also receive free dental services.

For a whole week Santa Claus, who is another member of the same company, went to eight locations to bring happiness to children along with their medical and dental services.

Gutierrez said that for them this is a good way to thank all patients for their loyalty to AltaMed clinics.

“And also to help those who can't buy their toys. Here (they came) to meet Santa Claus, ”said Gutierrez.


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