About 360 children received holiday toys this year thanks to the Great Venice Toy Drive.
After setting up donation drop boxes throughout Venice, the Toy Drive ended on Saturday at the Oakwood Recreation Center with a holiday festival featuring Santa and lots of toys. Donations increased 33 percent compared to last year.
Children also received a free used book from the Venice Library and Multiple Helpings, a nonprofit devoted to helping parents with twins, triplets and quadruplets, handed out care packages to families in need.
"The Oakwood staff went above and beyond to allow us to make this event happen and we couldn't have done it without the tremendous community support," said Mariana Aguilar, who produced the event.
Kids also enjoyed playing with snow and had pictures taken with Santa in a wooden sleigh that was handmade by the family of an Oakwood staff member. They feasted on lunch provided by Whole Foods, Big Daddy’s Pizza and resident Oscar Hermosillo.
"This event is an example of the amazing community spirit in Venice where people come together and create wonderful events. We welcome everyone to get involved in the Venice Neighborhood Council," said VNC President Linda Lucks.
This was the second year for the Venice Toy Drive. It was started after community members voiced concerns over the lack of toy giveaways in Venice.
For those interested in organizing the next Toy Drive, visit www.venicenc.org or go to the next VNC meeting on Dec. 18.