A season for giving

By Paul Rhien

Friday, January 15, 2021

At a time when many are struggling with the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sandia has joined multiple community efforts to help less fortunate children enjoy the magic of the holidays. Volunteers from the Labs led efforts again this year to collect donated coats and toys for charitable campaigns at the California site.

California Toys for Tots

Associate laboratories director Susan Seestrom
HO, HO, HOLIDAY GIVING Amelia Weintraub, right, drops off a gift at the Toys for Tots drive-by donation event on Dec. 10 and hits the brakes on her candy apple sleigh for a photo with Santa Claus. (Photo by Kaela Angelo)

Adjusting their annual Toys for Tots campaign, the Emergency Management organization at the California site collected toy donations via Amazon wishlists and on-site collection boxes. California Labs employees and contractors donated more than 240 toys to the Marine Toys for Tots Program.

Dennis Baker, manager for Emergency Management, expressed appreciation to everyone who supported the drive.

“Sandia’s successful Toys for Tots campaign highlights the generosity of Sandians who, in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, gave freely so every child in need can get a toy for Christmas,” Dennis said.

Instead of their traditional block party, campaign volunteers organized a drive-by toy donation event on December 10, so families could drop off donated toys and get their socially distanced photos taken with Santa Claus.

One Warm Coat

Krissy Galbraith prepares coats in her home
ONE FOR EVERYONE Krissy Galbraith prepares coats in her home for distribution to meet the needs of those hit hardest by California wildfires. (Photo courtesy of Krissy Galbraith)

Many who have already been struggling to make ends meet also faced record wildfire devastation that spread across six California counties this summer. To help meet the growing need for coats this fall and winter, Sandia employees donated 138 new coats and 20 beanies to assist north bay communities hit hardest through the Sandia Gives campaign in partnership with One Warm Coat, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that provides warm coats to those in need. Sandia’s contributions to the coat drive were distributed by Redwood Gospel Mission in Santa Rosa, California, during its Great Thanksgiving drive-thru event on Nov. 25.

Krissy Galbraith, a creative designer at the California site, spearheaded the coat drive, pivoting to a virtual campaign, offering alternative ways to donate to One Warm Coat.

“If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that you never know when you’re going to need help,” Krissy said. “I am so grateful for my colleagues at Sandia for continuing to open their hearts and provide warmth to those in need year after year.” 

Holiday Spirit

For safety reasons, the Holiday Spirit campaign also called on the workforce to support their toy drive virtually this year. Through online donations, Sandians donated nearly 200 gifts that went directly to local charities. Donations were made to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tracy, Marylin Avenue Food Pantry in Livermore, and Lotus Bloom (Family Resource Center) in Alameda, who distributed the toys to families in need.

“These agencies we work with have many needy children they provide services to. They are very grateful for the gifts, especially this year,” said Karelyn Baker, who organizes the annual drive. “The pandemic has reduced the aid they usually receive from various sources, so they appreciate even more the people who came through for them.”

achel Sowell and her daughter Natalie drop off a gift
SANDIA GENEROSITY Rachel Sowell, right, and her daughter Natalie drop off a gift for a child in need at the Marine Toys for Tots drive-by donation event on Dec. 10. (Photo by Kaela Angelo)
Kevin Manktelow and his family get their photo taken with a socially distanced Santa
SOCIALLY DISTANT SANTA Kevin Manktelow, right, and his family get their photo taken with a socially distanced Santa at the Toys for Tots drive-by donation event on Dec. 10. (Photo by Kaela Angelo)

Learn more about additional opportunities for community giving throughout the year.