The annual “Toys for Kids” assists young children and elderly in Tijuana, and others in need
By SDCNN Staff
The Imperial Court de San Diego’s annual “Toys for Kids” toy and blanket drive, is the oldest in San Diego’s LGBT community. It was established in 1974 after their first attempt at doing a toy drive didn’t go quite so smoothly. When the Court tried to donate toys to the Marine’s Toys for Tots Foundation, the gift from the “homosexual community” was flatly refused. Undeterred, they decided to do it on their own.
From the beginning, the Toys for Kids program has brought holiday cheer to children throughout San Diego County and Mexico. After seeing news reports of many deaths attributed to the cold winter months among young children and the elderly in Tijuana, the drive grew to provide not only toys, but new blankets to people in need, as well as to homeless shelters in the San Diego area.
A far cry from when some organizations wouldn’t accept their donations, now when toy donations fall short, charities now come to them.
“If someone, anyone needs help, we’ll help them,” said Michael Lochner, Imperial Court de San Diego board president. “It’s important to be a voice for the community. We might love differently, but we’re here to support everyone, regardless if they are LGBT or not.”
And the Imperial Court isn’t just about pageantry. It is an all-volunteer service organization that provides support to the LGBT community and the San Diego community through events such as these.
Cindy Lehman, California Bank’s longtime branch manager, is excited to host its third holiday gathering with the Greater San Diego Business Association (GSDBA).
“I am excited to be hosting this again,” she said. “I love that so many kids will receive gifts, they might not have had otherwise, if the Imperial Court didn’t do the Toy Drive.”
GSDBA has been a proud contributor to the drive for almost 15 years.
Each December the bank gets in the “holiday spirit,” which can be somewhat unique these days.
“I personally love the holidays,” Lehman said. “I get a special warm feeling inside when I see people offering to help others. I love do-gooders and I always have.”
California Bank & Trust’s holiday social toy and blanket drive will take place Thursday, Dec. 14, from 6-8 p.m. at the bank, located at 3737 Fifth Ave. in Hillcrest. Sponsors include the GSDBA, San Diego Community News Network, publishers of Gay San Diego, and the Imperial Court de San Diego.
For more info, visit gsdba.org.