Public Safety

Probation Officers Focus On Families in Need for Holiday Giving

Two young boys select a toy from a toy display and get help from Probation officers.
Two boys are led into Santa's Toy Workshop by Probation elves to choose a present for themselves as part of a holiday toy and food distribution event. The children also received a wrapped gift to open on Christmas.

Children’s eyes lit up when they peeked into Santa’s toy workshop set up at the South Bay Probation Office as part of a holiday distribution of community- and privately donated toys, as well as a holiday meal for 45 families throughout the county.

San Diego County Probation, Volunteers in Probation Inc., a nonprofit charitable organization dedicated to helping probationers and at-risk youth, and local car clubs teamed up earlier this month to hold a car show and toy drive to collect for families in need. On Saturday, they distributed the toys and food either at their Chula Vista office or by special delivery if needed.

A young boy and girl pose with Santa while holding their new toy.
After selecting a toy, the children visited with Santa, played by a deputy probation officer.

“The holiday event went even better than we could have imagined since it’s the most families we’ve ever selected and the first year we have hosted the families at our office. As you may imagine, it is really wonderful to see how we can all make a difference for families in need,” said San Diego County Probation Chief Adolfo Gonzales. “We want our officers to have a positive impact in our communities.”

Of the 45 families selected, 112 were children ranging from three months to 16 years of age. Probation clients and their children and students in Probation’s Leadership Academy program at four schools adopted by the department were referred to participate. Probation then contacted the families to verify circumstances, the number of family members, and ages and gender for children.

The main distribution took place in South County in Probation’s lobby and Santa’s toy workshop, a conference room taken over by Probation’s elves. They filled it with toys, letting each child choose one and then visit with Santa. Meanwhile in the next room, parents received a holiday ham and meal bundle and a wrapped toy for each child to open on Christmas.

Two young girls receive presents from Santa.
Santa made a home delivery in North County as part of Probation’s holiday toy distribution.

The event could not have happened without the generosity of the community from the Car Show and Toy Drive to private donations accepted by Volunteers in Probation, which paid for the families’ holiday meals, said Mayra Nunez, Probation community engagement liaison. If not for the donations, Christmas might have been a source of stress and disappointment for these struggling families.

“We had one of our clients tell us that ‘This is all my kids are getting because we are trying to get back on our feet,’ and that is the reality for some families. That is the reason why we’re doing this,” said Nunez.

In the North County, Probation officers and volunteers loaded up Probation vehicles and fancy local lowriders or vintage cars with toys and food deliveries for families who could not make the 30-minute drive to South County.

Santa poses with a vintage car and a probation officer.
Santa rode in style to deliver toys in North County for Probation’s toy and food distribution to pre-selected families.
Yvette Urrea Moe is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact