Big Blocks and Barbie Dolls
Goombahs Willow Glen Christmas Lights Cruise & Toy Drive
First and foremost, thank you to all who came and donated toys—538 of them to be exact!
The plan was to put on some Christmas music and grab a Starbucks “coffee” that looks suspiciously like a candy cane infused milkshake and write up a nice little ditty about some cars coming out for a good cause in Willow Glen. Nope, this is a heavy guitar riff, Mountain Dew gulping, roller coaster of an experience blog.
The event itself was AWESOME. Hundreds of decorated cars, Santa on a rad kustom sleigh, face painting, perfect weather and a super scientific guess of thousands of spectators enjoying the cars was a sight to see/experience. We all had a great time and once again the car community stepped-up big with generous donations. We could not have asked for a better event. Not to mention, we heard the lady selling the balloons with lights in them, was able to retire to the Bahamas. (But we do have lots of ideas on how to improve next year—please share your thoughts in the comments section.)
“As always, the Goombahs events are not only good for our community, but good for the small businesses of Willow Glen,” said Jimmy Marino, Co-Owner of the Black Sheep Brasserie. “The positive nature of the Goombahs events creates an amazing atmosphere on Lincoln Avenue and we see that in our businesses. Collectively, we appreciate their passion for helping the underserved and the small businesses within their community. We are proud to support their events and to be a small part of their success.”
As soon as we could, we made our way to the donation location of the Family Giving Tree. There we met our Family Giving Tree Drive Leader Coordinator, Evelyn Huynh and the Queen Elf herself, CEO and Founder Jennifer Cullenbine. Evelyn was instrumental in helping us with our toy drive. Jennifer gave us a tour and told us the history of the Family Giving Tree after we unloaded the trailer.
From the outside, the former Cisco building on loan to The Family Giving Tree–looked, well, pretty boring. But through the magic of Christmas—inside was an entirely different world. It was one of two buildings storing tons and tons of new toys and new clothing for families in need. We unloaded our donations into big moving boxes, and they asked that we count each one—that’s why we knew the number. There was a pile, five to six feet tall and just as wide, about 100 yards long of unsorted toys. Another area of sorted toys and a third area where they were grouped and wrapped. There were countless volunteers smiling and buzzing about—at “Buddy the Elf” like speeds or faster.
“The Goombahs are clearly a syndicate for good,” said Jennifer Cullenbine, CEO and Founder of the Family Giving Tree. “We work with organizations of all sizes, but this small group of car guys and their families blew us away. They are the first organization to curate the gift list with us and easily one of the largest donations we received from an open public event. They brought everything but the cannoli!”
For two weeks, four shifts a day, 300 hundred volunteers each shift and a small Family Giving Tree staff manage to organize, group items based on the individual family requests, wrap, and distribute these gifts to 80K families across 11 counties. Honestly, it so awesome to see and overwhelming but it’s not uncommon to think—well, it seems like they have it handled, no children will go without a gift this year. The unfortunate reality is, only about 20% of the people living in Silicon Valley can actually afford to live in Silicon Valley. The needs of the underserved children in our community are growing by the minute. The toys we donated, through the generosity of the car community, are needed and appreciated—especially because we asked you to donate specifically what the children/families were requesting.
Jennifer co-created the Family Giving Tree as a part of her MBA program at SJSU. 29 years later, it’s a force of goodwill that cannot be denied. Despite the massive scale of the operations today, (the sorting, bundling and distribution) the program is virtually identical to her initial design 29 years ago. She received a B- on the project from her professor at SJSU, but we are giving her an “A” and so does CharityNavigator.org.
Thank you to all who donated and to the Family Giving Tree for making the holidays special for everyone.