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Toy drive at Citrus Heights bingo center nets gifts for ‘Holiday Cheer’ program

Officers with the Citrus Heights Police Department pick up toys from a donation drive at Grand Oaks Bingo Center on Dec. 11, 2022. // M. Hazlip

By Mike Hazlip—
A toy donation drive organized by a local Optimist International club netted six shopping carts full of items destined for families throughout Citrus Heights.

Police officers were on hand to receive the donation at the Grand Oaks Bingo Center on Monday night, Dec. 12, and club members Paul Colbert and Brian Taylor aided in loading items onto police vehicles.

The organization started collecting items for the donation a little earlier this year, beginning in November. Bingo players were able to donate a toy or cash as their buy-in.

The donations were loaded into two police community service pickup trucks and taken to the police station where they were to be added to other donations as part of Operation Holiday Cheer, the annual toy drive benefiting Citrus Heights families who have suffered a recent hardship.

Police Sgt. Kyle Shoberg estimated about seven bicycles were part of the donation in addition to toys and games. Walmart also donated items, he said.

Optimist Club members say they hope to donate additional items before Christmas this year.

Operation Holiday Cheer, formerly known as the Holiday Referral Program, is in its 14th year. The event is a partnership between the city, police department, and other local service clubs, businesses, community members and schools.

Samantha Lofas, executive assistant to Police Chief Alex Turcotte, told The Sentinel in an email Wednesday that more than 100 residents benefited from the program this year, receiving gifts and food donations. She said items were distributed on Dec. 14, winding up with a police convoy dropping off gifts at the Sayonara Youth Center.

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