By Samantha SLAYBACK
For many, the holiday season is a time to spend with family, enjoy a nice dinner and exchange gifts with loved ones. But some members of the community don’t have the funds to enjoy a lavish holiday with gifts and a hot meal. This is the time when it is especially important that the community turns outward and gives generously.
Spark of Love is a donation program in which fire departments throughout Southern California take part. Agencies from Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange, Ventura and Riverside counties participate in Spark of Love, as does the Glendale Fire Dept. Donations include toys, sports equipment and video games that are given to kids and teenagers up to 18 years old. After being collected, all of the donations are distributed throughout the originating communities with the hope that everyone in the community can enjoy a happy holiday season.
“As firefighters, we see and help people throughout the community and know there are children who will really benefit from this,” said Glendale Fire Station 29 Captain Brian Julian. “It’s very inspiring to us to be the people collecting donations and seeing the enormous generosity of this community.”
On Friday, the Crescenta Valley Armenian Community Center and Youth Federation donated boxes of toys to Station 29 in Montrose. Participating in the toy drive each year is part of the Armenian Center’s Outreach Committee program.
“[One of purposes of the center’s] toy drive is to participate in activities sponsored by our fire department,” explained center boardmember Carmen Ohanian. “Also, from an educational point of view, we participate to teach our children the spirit of donating and helping the needy in our community.”
Leo Mandani is a member of the Armenian Youth Federation Junior Chapter.
“We work with kids all the time and love to see their reactions when they are given something as a surprise – and these are children who can afford toys,” Mandani said. “We can only imagine the joy these gifts bring to the under-served children who receive them.”
Donations can be dropped off at any local fire station. Monetary donations are also being accepted online at https://www.calfund.org/sparkoflove.