The GPALB is again assisting the Salvation Army with its "Operation Christmas Adopt-A-Family" program by providing extensive warehouse space for gift distribution as well as adopting a local family by giving them food for their Christmas dinner and gifts for the family's children.
GPALB's warehouse will be open Tuesday, Dec. 18 for companies and individuals that have adopted a family to drop off their donations. This year, more than 150 families will be "adopted" in Long Beach, and the rear half of the Grand Prix Association's warehouse – normally used to house materials and equipment used to build race grandstands – will be packed with holiday goodies. Among the items: toys, games, sports equipment and, most noticeably, bicycles. Annually, about 300 bicycles for kids are staged for pickup.
On Wednesday, Dec. 19, the families will pick up their Christmas baskets and gifts at the Grand Prix offices and warehouse at Pacific and Spring streets, and it isn't uncommon for the line for pickups to stretch halfway down the block on Pacific Avenue in Long Beach!
"Between loaning us the building, lending us staff and providing hot chocolate and donuts for the recipients, the Grand Prix has been an enormous help to us," said Bobbi Robb, coordinator of the Adopt-A-Family program for the Salvation Army.
"The best part of the day is seeing the sheer joy on the faces of families coming pick up their gifts. We've had adults crying when they see the gifts for their families. And the kids that come – you can imagine their excitement … it's a very special moment."
A group of 40-plus volunteers, many of who are from Santa Fe High School, which annually adopts two families – help with the distribution. The Grand Prix staff also assists with the effort by transporting gifts to families without cars.
This holiday season, the Salvation Army will assist more than 1,200 families with more than 5,000 children in Long Beach. In addition, The Reef Restaurant in Long Beach (880 S. Harbor Scenic Drive) will feed 1,000 Long Beach families with a Christmas Day breakfast in conjunction with the Salvation Army.
For more information on or to get involved with the Salvation Army or its "Operation Christmas Adopt-A-Family" program, call (562) 426-7637 or visit salvationarmy.org.
The Grand Prix Association of Long Beach owns and operates the annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which runs for the 34th time April 18-20, 2008.