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By Henrietta J. Burroughs              Follow East Palo Alto Today on
East Palo Alto Today                 Facebook    Twitter         Blog
December 24, 2014                
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Santa Claus paid an early visit this past weekend to hundreds of children in East Palo Alto. Thanks to the collaboration of various community organizations, families throughout the city received free food and toys for the holidays.  

On this past Saturday, the parking lot at the Costaño elementary school was full of cars, as hundreds of children and their families attended the Ravenswood City School District's free food distribution event. The school district partnered with the Second Harvest Food Bank and other non-profit organizations to supply fresh food and produce to the families and students in East Palo Alto and Menlo Park, whom the school district serves.

The district's food distribution program started earlier this year in an effort to provide healthy, nutritious, eating options for all of its students.

But, considering the number of families that were served on Saturday, school representatives described their latest food distribution as "unprecedented in its size and scope." More than 650 families took home at least one bag of food, including fresh meat, bread, eggs.

The pre-Christmas giveaway was coupled with a raffle that also provided children with toys and bikes. Even Santa, himself, added to the excitement of the event by calling some of the raffle numbers.

Dr. Gloria Hernandez-Goff, the school district's superintendent, said that school officials would like for the schools to be a hub for the community in providing safety net services such as food and medical care.

The district is striving to supply services each month to 4,000 families, in an effort to meet the needs of its students and their families, in an holistic way by serving the whole child.

If families missed the school district's toy giveaway on Saturday, they had another chance to get toys for their children the next day when the East Palo Alto Police Department held its toy giveaway event on Sunday, December 21.

Prior to its toy event, the police department stated that it was short on toys and desperately needed donations. So, a request was made for public donations of new or unwrapped toys, gift cards and monetary donations.

Happily for many, the East Palo Alto City Council Chambers, where the giveaway took place, was filled with toys, toys, toys. The police department featured pictures from the event on its Facebook page and declared the toy drive and giveaway "a huge success!"

With this past weekend's giveaways, many local children and their families will have food and gifts for the holidays, just in time for Santa's actual arrival.

To contact Henrietta J. Burroughs, the author of the article, send an email to epatoday@epatoday.org.