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City Lights: Girls and boys always love their toys

December 15, 2010|By Michael Miller

"It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!"

So exclaims Dr. Seuss' Grinch when he discovers that his attempt to stifle Christmas, by stealing all the presents from under the trees of Whoville, has come up short. The message of the Seuss classic is that the meaning of the holidays can't be found inside any package, but in the spirit of joy and togetherness.

The trouble is, that may be a message more easily embraced by adults than by kids. For the last decade, my family has more or less retired gift-giving and restricted holiday celebrations to a communal meal. That's more than good enough for me. I seldom have many material needs that aren't covered at the end of the year.

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Maybe that's why, judging from news reports, about one third of the planet's grown-ups sobbed at the end of "Toy Story 3"; as we grow older, it's easy to forget how those plastic figures once meant the world to us.

Still, for anyone 12 and under, there are few things in life more thrilling than waking up Christmas morning and tackling that pile of presents under the tree. And for those who aren't well enough to have that privilege, December can be a particularly bleak month.

So, as Christmas approaches, this week's column will take the form of a listing of places around town accepting toys for charity. I'm sure it's far from a comprehensive list, but here are a few for starters:

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Joni's Angels, a nonprofit staffed by volunteers from local high schools, leads a toy drive every year at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital & Medical Center for kids hospitalized over the holidays. The students visit the patients to read to them, play music and otherwise give a respite to their parents or other caregivers.

The nonprofit seeks donated toys (or money to purchase toys) in hopes of providing a sack to every child in the pediatric unit, pediatric ICU and neonatal ICU. The nonprofit assembled 50 sacks of toys last year. The deadline for donations is Dec. 24. For more information, call (949) 263-5910 or visit http://www.jonisangels.org.

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