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MEND Poverty's Christmas Toyland


December 2017


For our December event, we are helping MEND Poverty with their annual Christmas Toy Land!


Families who meet federal poverty guidelines come to the MEND Center on assigned days in December to select a new gift/toy for their children, receive new blankets and generous boxes of food for Christmas dinner. In 2016, MEND served approximately 1,300 families, helping over 4,800 individuals.

Volunteers will:

  • Guide parents through our toy land & picking up their Christmas basket & blankets

  • Assist in different areas: Toy Sorting, Toy Land, Wrapping Paper, Christmas Baskets, Blankets, etc.

  • Prepare vegetables & other goodies for Christmas Baskets


The San Fernando Valley has been my home almost my entire life. I was born and raised in Van Nuys, and just like many of the families we helped at our Toy Drive & Christmas Basket Program, I too grew up in a very low-income family, where sometimes, having a brand-new toy to open at Christmas wasn’t always an option. When Bianca Caruso (the backbone of this resisterhoodLA event) reached out to me and asked to help lead day-of since she wouldn’t be able to make it, I jumped at the chance to help low-income families not far from where I grew up. I had never heard of MEND Poverty before helping to organize the December event with Bianca but I knew this was the PERFECT event for me.  

On December 9th, resisterhoodLA volunteers, joined the MEND Poverty team in Pacoima, in bringing a little holiday spirit to those families in need. There were several ways that our volunteers could help the families that came into MEND that day: you could help guide the families through the “Toy Land” to pick toys for their children, you could hand out soccer balls, stocking stuffers, and even blankets and Christmas decorations. Everything was thought of, nothing was missed. These families walked into MEND that day and left with a bag full of toys, goodies, and necessities to make Christmas special for their families, even if they didn’t have the money to do it themselves. While the toy drive was the big hoorah of the event, there was also a “Christmas Basket” Program happening at the same time. A couple of our volunteers headed over there right away to help assemble the baskets while I was up in Toy Land handing out stuffed animals. Once the toys were all given away, the Toy Land volunteers had the opportunity to help with the baskets. This was hands-down my favorite part of the whole day. As someone who loves cooking and feeding my family and friends, it brought me so much joy to pack in fruits, veggies, and other food items into these baskets. It made me feel so good to know that I helped families in the Valley put good, healthy foods, on the table for their families that night. 

Thank you so much to MEND Poverty for organizing this event every single year. Something as simple as packing up bags of food and donating a toy can completely turn a family’s holiday around. Seeing all the family’s smiles and hearing all of the gratitude was an experience I will never forget. I will definitely be back next year! 

Contributed by Megan Hoel, Hot Wheels Web Producer at Mattel.

You can find Megan on instagram.


In the early 1970’s, MEND – Meet Each Need with Dignity – opened its doors in an effort to transform the lives of the neediest residents of the northeast San Fernando Valley. From its beginning as a small group of volunteers working from a garage, MEND has grown, primarily by word of mouth, into the largest poverty agency in the Valley. More than 94% of the support and donations received by MEND goes directly to client services, making it one of the leanest operating non-profit organizations in existence. MEND provides stability and dignity with emergency food, clothing, homeless services and medical care, as well as tools to achieve self-reliance through job skills training, computer classes, English as a Second Language classes and youth enrichment.

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