When you’re crossing off that list of Christmas presents this year, don’t forget to include a toy for the Bradley Pacheco Memorial Toy Drive in Turlock.
At just five months old, Bradley Pacheco developed spinal meningitis. He spent much of his life in-and-out of hospitals before he passed away at age eight on Thanksgiving Day, 2007.
His short life served as an inspiration to others. Bradley never learned to speak, but he spoke volumes to those he loved and to doctors who treated him throughout his lengthy survival, which was highly unusual for someone of his age.
During his battle, Bradley would spend many holiday seasons in the hospital with his family and mother, Lisa Pires, the owner of the Bronze Body tanning shop in Turlock.
While in the hospital, Pires would see incredible acts of giving from a family who would bring toys to sick children. This inspired her to do the same, and she launched the Bradley Pacheco Memorial Toy Drive five years ago.
Since then the toy drive has exploded in donations, largely thanks to the courageous efforts of students in the Dutcher Middle School and Turlock Junior High Builder’s Clubs, as well at elementary students at Walnut and Medeiros elementary schools.
In 2009, about 100 toys were donated. The number rose to 300 toys in 2010, 1,400 toys in 2011, and in 2012 more than 3,300 toys were given to children in hospitals.
“I can’t explain the delight on a kid’s face when they get that present, it's worth all the hard work and time. You can really see the difference you're making,” said Pires.
Pires says she and her team dropped off toys at Emanuel Medical Center in Turlock, and at hospitals in Stockton, Modesto, Sacramento, Davis, Madera, San Jose and Santa Clara – where Bradley was hospitalized.
In recent years Pires has been contacted by people in other parts of the country for advice as to how to begin such a toy drive.
“It’s really just reaching out and getting the word out. There has been so much awareness to this cause. As a parent I know how much it means to me. He would be 14 years old now and the toy drive has grown as Bradley would have grown,” said Pires. “I think he would be proud.”
Pires invites people to give new, unwrapped presents including items like DVDs, BluRays, books, puzzles, blankets, coloring books, dolls, stuffed animals, Legos, action figures, and even iTunes cards for older children.
Presents can be dropped off at several locations:
• All area Century 21 M&M Offices, including 331 E. Main St., Turlock
• Dutcher Middle School, 1441 Colorado Ave., Turlock
• Turlock Junior High, 3951 N. Walnut Rd., Turlock
• Bronze Body, 2626 Geer Rd., Turlock
For more information visit “The Bradley Pacheco Memorial Toy Drive” on Facebook.