Families that stopped by the San Rafael and Novato clinics’ “Health Hubs” – the weekly all-are-welcome drive-thru/walk-up health screening and food pantry service coordinated by staff and located in the clinics’ parking lot – were recently treated to a special day during this season of giving. On December 16 (Novato) and December 22 (San Rafael) staff, volunteers, and community partners joined forces to distribute good cheer, food, and toys to the community. Lots of toys!
Community: The Gift that Keeps Giving
The Health Hubs provide services for hundreds of households on a weekly basis (year-round) at both locations. Clinics pediatrician Dr. Jessica Hollman began the heart-warming annual tradition of adding a toy drive ahead of the holidays. Now in its 7th consecutive year, the toy drive has been fully embraced by the local community, drawing attendees and supporters from all over the county. An impressive 1,560+ new and individually wrapped toys were collected and distributed this year – enough for every eager child that visited the sites to leave with a gift (along with joyful smiles underneath their masks).
The children weren’t the only ones smiling. Health Hub Supervisor Rosa Linda Camacho was thrilled about the toy drive’s success and the group effort – bolstered by the many community partners that collaborated with the Clinics. She spoke of the importance of continuing the toy drive, despite the pandemic and the weather – especially now, when the need within the community is greatest.
“It was beautiful to see all the volunteers, the people in the community, Marin Community Clinics staff, and so many of our partners come together to make this possible,” explained Camacho.
Despite the rain and cold, lines wrapped around the clinics on the day of the events. Holiday tidings lifted spirits at both events, as attendees and staff exchanged well wishes in English and Spanish. Volunteers arrived early in the morning to set-up the tables, canopies, and boxes of healthy food and supplies, while others carefully stacked and organized hundreds upon hundreds of wrapped donations.
The amount of work that went into the toy drive was not lost on parents in attendance – as they expressed their gratitude for the Clinics and everyone involved throughout the day. “I heard several parents say things like, ‘Muchas gracias por el trabajo que hacen que Dios te bendiga’ (thank you very much for the work you do, God bless you),” said Camacho.
No Santa (& No Elves) – Just a Determined Health Hubs Advisory Team
This year’s success can only be attributed to hard work and team effort. A dedicated Health Hubs Advisory Team (consisting of Health Hub Assistant Jennifer Cortez, Community Outreach Manager Florencia Parada, and volunteers Erica Hunt and Karla Valdez) managed the planning process. Each member of the team played a vital role – leaning on their respective networks to promote and fund the events, assisting in the operations from beginning to end, and bringing valued community partners on board to make it all happen.
Hunt lent space in her home to store more than 700 toys, raised substantial funds to shop for gifts, and initiated “wrapping parties,” where family and neighbors would wrap gifts for hours.
The work and the weeks of preparation paid off. “Many of these families are struggling,” explained Camacho. “Anything we can do to help during the holiday season is something we all look forward to – watching the joy it brings to each family is a wonderful experience.”
Marin Community Clinics would like to thank everyone that contributed to this year’s success, and a special thanks to:
- Children for Change
- Kentfield School District
- Marin Academy
- Novato High School
- Ross Valley School District
- Volunteer Program at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
- White Hill Middle School
- Marin Community Clinics staff, volunteers, and supporters
Sign-up here to volunteer at Marin Community Clinics’ Health Hubs on Wednesdays (in San Rafael) or Thursdays (in Novato).
Touching lives through health: Our work is made possible by generous gifts from community members like you. When giving to Marin Community Clinics, you’re improving the health of our patients and our community. Make a lasting impact and donate today!