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More than 300 Hays County children will recieve Christmas gifts through the annual Partnership for Children's Holiday Wishes toy drive. Volunteers from First Baptist Church San Marcos gathered Wednesday to help unload and sort out gifts for the toy drive, while caseworkers from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services picked up the presents at FBC San Marcos. Above, volunteers take gifts off a truck. Below, volunteers and a DFPS caseworker gather toys for children during Wednesday's distribution day. Daily Record photos by Nick Castillo

DFPS, Partnerships for Children distributes gifts for Hays County kids

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Claralis Diaz enjoys seeing the smiles on kids’ faces as they receive gifts for Christmas.

Diaz, a Child Protective Services Specialist with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, will soon distribute presents to the clients she works with through Partnerships for Children's Holiday Wishes toy drive.

This year marked the second year she’s gathered gifts through the annual toy drive.

“I’ll say the families really enjoy being able to have someone give them gifts because the parents don’t have that ability,” Diaz said. “The parents are grateful. The caregivers are grateful. The kids will usually give me pictures with the gifts after Christmas. They, especially the older ones, really enjoy being able to ask for what they want and being able to get something because they don’t have that security all the time. Just to know that they’re gonna get gifts.”

Volunteers from First Baptist Church San Marcos helped unload hundreds of gifts donated for the toy drive Wednesday. Volunteers sorted presents and organized them for DFPS caseworkers to pick up.

More than 300 kids from Hays County will receive gifts through the Holiday Wishes toy drive, according to DFPS Rainbow Room Coordinator Brenda Jones.

“Case workers will come here to pick up their gifts and take them back and then distribute them to their clients,” Jones said. “First Baptist Church was kind enough to let us use their facility. This is pretty much for our kids who are trying to have a nice Christmas. Everybody needs normalcy in their atmosphere.”

Monica Followell, FBC San Marcos missions and outreach minister, said the church chose to get involved with the toy drive because of the ministry’s passion to serve children who have been removed from their homes or are without parents.

“We have several international mission partners, and many of them are focused on children’s homes and things like that,” Followell said. “We started engaging our local community, mostly Child Protective Services and some other child-placement agencies and organizations, seeing how we can be of service here to children who are in the same situations but here at home.”

FBC San Marcos has been helping for at least three years, Followell said. Volunteers are quick to help, so much so that the church has to limit the amount of volunteers they can take.

“We will get so many volunteers that they’ll just stand around doing nothing. But every year we have more and more that want to come,” Followell said. “They’re always real excited to help … So socially, we just want to make an impact on different issues that are affecting our community. We’re always finding new ways.”

More than 5,000 children will receive gifts throughout Central Texas through the Holiday Wishes toy drive. Mark Wilson, DFPS media relations specialist, said it’s not too late to provide a monetary donation to help children receive presents this Christmas.

“Often children will come into care in the weeks leading into the holidays or over the holidays, so we can use that to quickly turn around and make sure that they still have as happy of a Christmas that we can provide,” Wilson said.

As Diaz prepares to distribute gifts to her clients, she’s glad the toy drive exists to provide for children. She said she loves seeing the kids' reactions as they open their presents.

“They want to open it right when I give it to them,” Diaz said. “But I have to tell them, ‘You know, wait a little bit. It’s OK.’ But it’s a great experience for them, for these families, especially those that can’t afford to give those extra gifts during the holidays.”

San Marcos Record

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P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666