The Christmas season is a time to remember the joy of giving. If you’re looking for a good cause to give to this holiday season, make sure to check out the Bradley Pacheco Memorial Toy Drive.
At the age of five months, Bradley Pacheco was diagnosed with meningitis, a bacterial infection of the membranes and fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Bradley, who was born a healthy baby, became severely disabled after his diagnosis, resulting in multiple visits to various hospitals.
Lisa Pires, Bradley’s mother and founder of the toy drive, recalled taking Bradley to Emanuel Medical Center, the ICU Unit at Santa Clara, and the children’s hospital in Madera.
“Throughout his life, he had to be hospitalized a lot of times,” stated Pires.
On Thanksgiving Day, 2007, Bradley Pacheco passed away at the age of eight years old.
Bradley’s mother stated that she would always remember one particular memory when Bradley was in the hospital around the holiday season. A family, who did not know Bradley or his family, had brought toys to the hospital for the children there, including Bradley.
“It really stuck with me,” she stated. “It touched my heart. The hospital is not where you want to spend Christmas, so to have a family do that…it really cheered up the kids and myself. It was very touching.”
The year following Bradley’s passing, Pires decided to start a Toy Drive in memory of her son.
“I wanted to create something in memory of my son and for it to be positive,” she stated.
In 2008, Pires started the Bradley Pacheco Memorial Toy Drive. The first year consisted of mainly family and friends gathering toys for hospitalized children, and resulted in the collection of approximately 100 toys.
Pires, who owns Bronze Body Tanning Salon in Turlock, then decided the following year to make flyers to have at her business to see if others would join the cause. One of her clients had a daughter who attended Dutcher Middle School in Turlock, and was part of the middle school’s Builder’s Club. The Builder’s Club at Dutcher Middle School took on the toy drive as a student project.
“It just grew from there,” stated Pires. “Last year there was a competition between the Builder’s Clubs at Dutcher Middle School and Turlock Junior High to collect toys.” The total amount of toys collected last year was just under 2,000. Pires and her husband then delivered the toys to hospitals around the region, going as far south as Madera, and as north as Stockton.
This year, the Bradley Pacheco Memorial Toy Drive is partnering with the Kid’s Holiday Bash, hosted by the students of Dutcher Middle School and Turlock Junior High.
The Kid’s Holiday Bash will be held on Saturday, December 15th, from 10am to 5pm at Dutcher Middle School. While there is no monetary admission fee for the event, the program coordinators are asking for a new in package toy as a small gift donation upon arrival.
The Kid’s Holiday Bash will feature a ‘Make and Take’ Workshop, including ornament decorating, letter to Santa station, Christmas card decorating, cupcake decorating, face painting, and much more. There will also be a Winter Wonderland and a Gingerbread House. The event will also feature Christmas carolers, live Christmas music, and a remote control airplane display.
Bradley’s Toy Drive is in its 4th year of success in touching the lives of children who are hospitalized during the holiday season.
To make a toy donation, which must be new packaged toys, please visit one of the following drop off centers before December 21st, the last day to make donations. Toys can be for any age between newborns and 18.
-Turlock Jr. High
– Dutcher Middle School
– Bronze Body Tanning Salon
For more information, visit The Bradley Pacheco Memorial Toy Drive facebook or call Lisa Pires at Bronze Body Salon at (209) 667-5666.