The Oakland Mayor’s Toy Drive celebrated its 40th Anniversary last week by carrying on multiple traditions that included the 10th anniversary of Boxer & Gerson hosting the drive’s Opening Reception. The coinciding anniversaries made for perhaps the most festive occasion yet as the event raised a record $35,266 to buy toys for Oakland’s disadvantaged children. The funds complemented 30 boxes of toys and 54 bicycles that were also brought to the reception, where the price of admission was either five unwrapped non-violent toys or $50.
More than 200 people attended the reception at the Rotunda Building in downtown Oakland, where Boxer & Gerson has its main offices. They were met with the now familiar sights and sounds of entertainment by two musical groups with close affiliations to the event: the Pacific Boychoir Academy, and the Piedmont Troubadours.
Holiday music from the Pacific Boychoir Academy has become a regular feature of the reception.
Familiar local dignitaries were also on hand to lend their support, including Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Deputy Fire Chief Melinda Drayton, Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, and Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board Presiding Judge Gene Lam.
Another familiar presence: Oakland A’s mascot Stomper, there to entertain the children in attendance and in no small measure, to delight the adults who managed to corral him for photos.
Guests enjoyed catered finger foods and liquid refreshments, along with a raffle ticket for the highly sought-after prize of a signed game jersey by Golden State Warrior superstar Steph Curry.
Final deliberations on the much-anticipated Steph Curry jersey raffle.
“It was our best event ever, which I wind up saying every year because it grows every year in enthusiasm and support from the community,” said Boxer & Gerson Partner Maria Sager.
Sager organized the first, low-key reception 10 years ago and has since watched it grow to become a significant civic event on the Oakland holiday calendar. This year, she was joined by her colleague Tiffany Speers in the considerable planning and organization such an event requires.
“The best part is always the thought of brightening the holidays for so many children and families,” said Sager.
“Due to the generosity of our worker’s comp community, more than 2,100 children will be waking up to presents on Christmas morning who might otherwise have gone without.”
Key figures in the Toy Drive reception’s success (l-r): Aimee Hartono, Vicki Lindquist, Christina Martinez, Tiffany Speers, Keith Epstein, Mayor Libby Schaaf, Carol Powell, Jamie Gerson, Maria Sager. The large check guesstimated the final figure that wound up exceeding $35,000.
Both chiefs—Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick and Deputy Fire Chief Melinda Drayton—offered brief remarks.
Safe to say, a very good time was had by all. And now onwards to 2019!