Santa Ana Center cheers the hearts of diverse children with developmental disabilities by providing toys for this Christmas

For Reina Rocha and her husband, Eusebio Morales, Christmas did not look very promising since they were recently evicted from their apartment in the city of Santa Ana.

"The owner took us out because we have many children," said the woman.

The couple has nine children. Three of them have autism, one was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and another recently presented a type 1 epilepsy and diabetes.

However, despite the adversity, the children will have the love of their parents in addition to the toys that on Wednesday came to pick up Tustin, a city in Orange County.

This was part of the annual “Shop and Wrap” event of the Orange County Regional Center (RCOC) for children with disabilities from

The RCOC serves more than 22,000 area residents with developmental disabilities – such as autism, epilepsy, cerebral palsy and intellectual disabilities – and their families.

Children with intellectual disabilities received their Christmas gifts. (Jacqueline García / The Opinion)

Larry Landauer, executive director of RCOC, said about 250 families benefited from gifts that were donated by different organizations including ABC7 Spark of Love.

"Not only do families face the difficulty of seeing the condition of their children but some worry this season about gifts," he said. "With these toys we help those who are struggling to get ahead."

Parents had the opportunity to enter a room full of gifts to choose the best one, depending on the age of each of their children, while the children waited in a room accompanied by Santa Claus – who was responsible for entertaining them.

Rocha confirmed the high need of the family this season.

"Right now we are living in Corona, a friend lent us her apartment but we drove an hour or more to come (to the RCOC) because here my children receive their services," she explained.

He said he learned about the delivery of toys through a worker at the center and is the second time he participates.

“This helps us a lot because I don't work and my husband works sometimes. We had a busy time with the children all day, ”said Rocha.

Reina Rocha entered the toy room to choose the right ones for her children. (Jacqueline García)

Relieving the pocket this season

Margarita Rodríguez was another of the lucky ones who came to the center to get gifts for her four grandchildren. She said the youngest girl suffers from meningitis and is being treated at the RCOC.

"I have four grandchildren in total with me of 3, 2 and 1 year and the baby of three months," he said and added that he has temporary custody of the four due to problems with his parents.

The maternal grandmother of the children who arrived from Lake Forest said she learned about the event through the nurses who help the baby.

"They called me and told me to come for the toys," said Rodriguez, who could not contain the happiness to see the details for the children.

He said that in the near future, he will know if the children will be returned to their parents or if she will have to go to court to obtain permanent custody.

But no matter what happens in the future, for now Rodriguez only celebrated being able to bring several gifts to the children.

Margarita Rodríguez arrived at the RCOC to get Christmas gifts from her grandchildren. (Jacqueline García / The Opinion)

Landauer said that seeing this type of reaction in needy families touches his heart a lot.

"Our mission is to help people with disabilities and we must meet those needs and we cannot take care of gifts and things like that because those are wishes, not needs, but these donations help us fill that part," said the director.

RCOC is one of 21 private nonprofit organizations hired by the State of California to coordinate lifelong services and support for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

In addition to toys, RCOC staff contacted low-income families to identify the requests they have this season and give them clothes, gift cards from the store and movie tickets.

These requests were made to the "Wish Tree"

of the RCOC and were provided to donors who purchase the items, wrap them and deliver them to RCOC.

Both Rocha and Rodríguez left the center happily with all the necessary toys for Christmas.

"We thank you for always helping us," Rocha said. “This is perfect! Rodriguez added.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here