Carlyanne and Sydney Garcia could have asked for anything for their birthday.
Clothes. Toys. Games.
But instead the Lathrop sisters asked that those that attended their birthday party – namely their friends from an out-of-town gymnastics team – bring an unwrapped toy that would never end up gracing their bedrooms, but those of less fortunate people in the community.
And while it isn’t the first time that the family has supported the Lathrop Manteca Fire District’s annual Christmas for Kids event– which is preliminarily scheduled for Dec. 19 at Grace Community Church – it is the first time that the young girls have opted to go without for their November birthday in order to help make Christmas special for somebody else.
“My husband and I are both very proud of the girls,” said mother Sabrina Garcia. “It’s kind of hard to explain but both of my girls are kindhearted people – very loving, giving people. It feels good to know that they were willing to do that.”
And Garcia said that she knows what it’s like to have the family budget stretched for the holidays.
While her family isn’t facing that right now, since both she and her husband are commuters there was a time they were paying upwards of $1,000-a-month in just gas alone. That extra expenditure on top of everything else, she said, made it extremely tough on the family.
“When you’re spending that much money on just gas it’s hard just to get by and if you throw Christmas on top of that? Forget it,” she said. “I think that it’s incredible that our fire department is able to turn to the community to help raise money and get donations to help people in the community. It says a lot about Lathrop.”
While a birthday party with toys is something that both of the girls would typically expect this time of year, Garcia said that she gave them an option – either they could have the event with their gymnastics friends and allow more people to attend the party without having to get gifts, or they could have a much smaller birthday party.
They chose the former, and when the family came up with the idea of just having small unwrapped toys donated in lieu of gifts the two young girls were all for it.
“I said to both of them that they already so many toys and they really don’t need anymore,” Garcia said. “They both said that they’d rather have their friends at their party and that makes me proud – they care about other people and what they may be going through.”
Every year the Lathrop Manteca Firefighters Association puts a tree up at Lathrop City Hall with the age and the gender of children that are signed up to participate in the program – gleaned through a system that works with local schools and programs to determine who is actually needy.
That tree will be posted in the lobby soon to give the public the chance to donate new, unwrapped presents to benefit children, and the event is preliminarily scheduled for Dec. 17 at Grace Community Church on J Street.
For more information about the event contact the Lathrop Manteca Fire District at 209.858.2331.