It’s the most wonderful time of the year

On+Fri.%2C+Dec.+6%2C+the+Stay+Gallery+partners+up+with+True+Lasting+Connections+to+conduct+a+toy+drive.+Members+of+the+Downey+community+brought+toys+of+a+ten-dollar+value+or+more%2C+enjoyed+the+art+and+entertainment%2C+and+ate+free+pizza.

Heidi Castillo

On Fri., Dec. 6, the Stay Gallery partners up with True Lasting Connections to conduct a toy drive. Members of the Downey community brought toys of a ten-dollar value or more, enjoyed the art and entertainment, and ate free pizza.

Rodas Hailu, Co-Editor-in-Chief

On Friday, Dec. 6, the Stay Gallery held their second annual Ugly Sweater Holiday Toy Drive, collecting over 200 toys from the community.

The toy drive, held in partnership with the district’s TLC Family Resource Center, was held to collect toys during the holiday season to provide gifts for underprivileged children within the city. Unwrapped toys, as well as a donation of $10, were both acceptable contributions for the cause.

The toy drive also consisted of visitors wearing their ugliest sweaters to the gallery. From a vintage 80s sweater (mimicking ones made popular by Bill Cosby), to blunt Aztec patterns, the people who took a fashion faux pas were welcomed by the hosts.

Since the event was a way to collect funds and gifts for the holiday season, several students volunteered their time at the gallery. Junior Melissa Pardo from Warren High School has volunteered her time at the gallery twice.

“We met Val (gallery owner), so he introduced us to Stay, so we said for sure we would volunteer at the next events,” Pardo said.

She volunteered with her friend, junior Angie Franco. Both participate in a club called the Humanitarian Society, where they devote their time to volunteering at places such as the Rancho Los Amigos Rehabilitation Center; however, Franco realized that there were other reasons why she wanted to spend her free time helping the Stay Gallery.

“After Val told us about Stay Gallery, we wanted to support that idea,” Franco said. “Downey needs to be revived, so we need more events like this.”

Although the event was held primarily for the toy drive, the gallery also had paintings available for viewing. Shirley Johnson, a Downey resident, was surprised with the immediate success the gallery had within the ommunity.

“They’re very innovative,” Johnson said. “I just thought it [the gallery] was going to be just a building with some paintings… I think this is a great venue. They’ve put this together so quickly. It’s a good spot.”

Local bands, such as The Holy Child and Otha Derek, performed music while visitors came in and out of the gallery. Food and drinks were available, as well as games, like Jenga, for anyone interested. Although the gallery holds the toy drive once a year, it has become a stronger way for the community to come together and fight for a cause.