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Frequently Asked Questions

General Information


Toy Chest

General Information

How are families selected to participate in the Holiday Program?

All families are clients of the Orange County Department of Social Services or partner agencies and meet eligiblity requirements including residency within Orange County.

Why do some families go to the Toy Chest and others are Sponsored?

Sponsored clients are working with agency social workers in intensive social work programs.  The constant contact allows social workers to screen these clients to determine whether sponorship is needed for the holidays.  The Toy Chest is open to all Orange County residents under 200% of poverty with minor children.


When will I receive my family’s information if I am sponsoring?

We will do our best to get your family’s information to you before November 13th.

The sizes don't seem appropriate for the child's age, what should I do?

Sizes do vary among children and we encourage you to use the sizes that the parent listed on your Wish List. The option for a gift card is always available whenever in doubt.

How much money should I spend on the family?

Sponsors should plan to spend $150-$200 per child, although this can vary based on the age of the child.  Those sponsoring seniors or disabled adults should plan to spend $50-$75. 

How should I bag/box up the gifts for my family? Should I wrap them?

Please remember that our clients don't always have transportation. And if they do, it's usually being shared with another family and space is limited. The more compact and transportable you can make your packages, the better.  Please DO NOT wrap the children’s gifts.  The parents like to do that for their children and need to see what the children are receiving.  Feel free to include wrapping paper with your gifts.  Always remember to LABEL each package with the labels provided and your name.

The child asked for a video game, how can I find out what gaming system the child has so I can buy him a video game?

If it is not specifically listed on the Wish List, then you should provide a gift card or choose another gift to give the child/teen. We cannot contact the family to find out which gaming system the child owns.

What do teens like to receive?

Movie tickets, fast food restaurant certificates, gift cards to any "teen" type store (Best Buy, Walmart, American Eagle, Claires, etc.) will be appreciated. Teens like to shop for themselves.

Should I get training wheels on the bike?

If the bike is for a toddler or a child under the age of 5, it's a good idea.

Should I provide a helmet for the bike/scooter/skateboard?

Always include a helmet when giving a gift on wheels. Knee and elbow pads are recommended for skateboards, as well.

Instead of purchasing a new bicycle for my sponsored family’s child, can I give them my child’s used bike?

Christmas gifts for your sponsored family should be new. Feel free to substitute something else if a bicycle is not in your budget.

What if I decide that I can't provide the gifts after I have received the family information?

Please let our office know, as soon as possible, so we can assign another Sponsor. If there are no Sponsors available, we will place the family in our Toy Chest.

They asked for DVD's. Should I get a DVD player as well?

That is not necessary. The family would have asked for a DVD player if that's what they needed.

Can I talk to the family or deliver the gifts to the family?

This isn’t possible. To protect your identity and the dignity of our clients, we cannot allow Sponsors to have direct contact with the family.

Can we get specific information about the mother or father to buy him/her something personal?

The family gift is optional and should be something the whole family can enjoy and not something personal.

Toy Chest

My teen group wants to volunteer at the Toy Chest.  Do we have to stay with them?

Yes. Any group of teens sent from an organization or club MUST be accompanied by an adult chaperone for every group of four at all times.  A teen group of eight would require two adults.

How old do volunteers need to be?

No volunteers under the age of 13 are allowed at the holiday distribution site at any time. Volunteers must be age 18 or older to act as escorts.  Teens from 13-15 must be accompanied by an adult at all times. Individual volunteers must be at least 16 to serve without an adult, groups of teens age 16-18 must have an adult chaperone for every group of four.

Do I have to sign-up to volunteer or can I just show up at the Toy Chest?

Managing volunteers can be a challenge and in an effort to have the process run smoothly and to ensure that we have activities for our volunteers to do, we ask that all volunteers sign up beforehand.