Olive Branch Development and Empowerment Services ensures hundreds of children open a present this Christmas

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Photos courtesy Olive Branch: Founder Angela Mcclain (center) with Fontana Sheriff’s Department as they escort Santa Claus onto the premises.
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The Olive Branch Development and Empowerment Services Founder Angela Mcclain made it a priority to ensure over 300 children in the Bloomington community and beyond had a gift to open this Christmas.

On December 19, the organization hosted a COVID-compliant Whoville Christmas drive-through event at Kessler Park, giving out over 600 toys, 500 stockings, 100 food baskets, drawstring bags, and more.

“During this holiday season, it was a priority to do something for the kids. They’ve already missed out on so much this year, so much isolation being away from their peers at school. It was important for the children to still have some sense of normalcy by seeing Santa Claus and receiving a Christmas gift,” said Mcclain.

Hundreds of vehicles lining up to receive new, unwrapped toys, a drawstring bag, stockings, and a food basket.

The drive-through event is one of the first for the organization that encompassed an experience-like setting.

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“While driving through families and children were graced by the presence of the Grinch, Mr. and Mrs. Claus, Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman. You could see the appreciation on the faces of the kids and even the parents, too,” continued Mcclain.

Organizations who contributed to the toy drive include Rancho Cucamonga Couponing, Howard Industrial Partners, Fiesta Village, National Kappa Kappa Lota, Grocery Outlet, Majestic Car Club, Our Paths, and more.

She also detailed how the following day she was at a grocery store when a mother who attended the giveaway walked up to her to express her gratitude.

“While at the grocery store a woman walked up to me, had tears in her eyes, and thanked me for the toys we had given her children the day before,” said Mcclain. “Sentiments like this make all the hard work that goes into this worth it.”

Although the toy drive was publicized on the organization’s social media pages, families were completely unaware of the food baskets they would receive, which included chicken, veggies, mashed potatoes, and gravy.

For over five years the 501(c)3 organization has been providing food resources to the underserved and homeless population in Bloomington and its surrounding communities.

“Before the pandemic, we were providing food resources to about 20 families per week, now we’re providing food boxes from anywhere between 100 to 200 families per week,” said Mcclain.

Food distributions are held every Thursday at either Kessler or Ayala Parks and Olive Branch encourages the public to visit its website or social media pages for the time and exact location of the distributions.

“Along with the continuance of food distributions, I have so many ideas for 2021, including providing students with brand new clothing for when school continues in-person learning again. To accomplish this, we will need the community’s support,” concluded Mcclain.

For more information or to donate, call 909-572-4348 or visit http://theolivebranchbloomington.com.

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