Eyes were sparkling and grins were wide on the 2,000 children who gathered for El Juguetazo, a celebration of the Epiphany held Jan. 14, at L.C. Bird High School.
“A snowstorm caused a delay for the annual event, originally scheduled for Jan. 7,” said Juan Santacoloma, Multicultural Liaison for Chesterfield County.
The event provides at least one new toy for each child in a low-income family.
In the Bible, the Three Kings Gaspar, Melchior and Balthazar, visited the baby Jesus bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Volunteers representing the Three Kings give gifts to the children.
For many in Spain and Latin America, the El Juguetaza Day, celebrated Jan. 6, is very important. For many Latin American youths, the kings, not Santa, are the star gift givers of the season.
No tax dollars are used, Santacoloma explained, and no violent toys are given.
“We had an outpouring of volunteers,” said Lupe McCloud. “Over 30 volunteers from Cosby School and about 10 more from other schools helped.”
Grown-ups also pitched in and vendors, and Chesterfield County police officers were also on hand.
“At one point, we ran out of toys,” said McCloud, “and we went to the store and purchased some more so every child got a gift.”
The first Juguetazo in the county, was held at Harry G. Daniels Park in 2005. After four years it was moved to L.C. Bird.
Donations are always needed. “We don’t accept cash gifts,” said Santacoloma. “We ask for toys and gift cards.”
The event is organized by Chesterfield County’s Multicultural Liaison Office along with Richmond Multicultural Affairs Office and the TV station WZTD-LD, a Telemundo affiliate.
This year’s sponsors are Anthem HealthKeepers, SunTrust, the Meade Law Firm and Toys for Tots.
This was the event’s 13th year. For more information or to make a donation, contact Juan Santacoloma, Chesterfield County Multicultural
Liaison, 796-7085 or firstname.lastname@example.org.