A volunteer helps load a new bike into a family’s van at United Way’s 31st Annual Holiday Food and Toy Drive-Thru. Photo Credit: Sandy Young/J Walcher Communications
A volunteer helps load a new bike into a family’s van at United Way’s 31st Annual Holiday Food and Toy Drive-Thru. Photo Credit: United Way of San Diego County

A little rain didn’t stop a charity food and toy drive from spreading Christmas cheer and support to hardworking, low-income families in San Diego County Friday morning.

Officials from the United Way of San Diego County and San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council say that too many families are forced to make the tough choice between Christmas dinner or toys from Santa.

The organizations hosted their ’31st Annual Holiday Food and Toy Drive Thru’ where 500 working families drove through Qualcomm Stadium Friday. The event handed out 1,000 toys and 500 turkey dinners for each family between 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

Seventy-five volunteers and Santa Claus guided each family through the Holiday Food and Toy Drive Thru, said an event representative. At the event, the volunteers loaded the car trunks of families with rows and rows of colorful new toys labeled for age and gender.

Then they handed out turkey dinners, piled high with all the delectable holiday fixings including turkey, potatoes, vegetables, bread and more.

Underprivileged families in need of extra help this holiday season were pre-selected for the toy drive, according to an official from the organizations.

“Thanks to Vons, Ralphs, Stater Brothers, SDG&E, IBEW Local 569 and several other unions and organizations who made today possible,” said Laurie Coskey, Ed.D., president and CEO of United Way of San Diego County.

United Way’s partnership with the Labor Council supports a quarter of a million working families in San Diego and Imperial Counties, helping working families by serving 135 affiliated labor groups, according to a representative for the organizations.

“We don’t just need help at the holidays,” said Coskey. “Anyone can drop off non-perishable food items to help fill our on-site food pantry or can purchase grocery or gasoline gift cards at 3737 Camino del Rio South, Suite 106. You can learn more or donate online at uwsd.org, and if you need help, call 619-641-0074.”

In addition to Coskey, some of the event’s volunteers included Jaime Vasquez and Richard Barrera from the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, according to event organizers.