A look at what one community did over the holidays this year by Dawnmarie Fehr Correspondent for The Press
A community of homes on Baird Circle in Brentwood came together this season to collect toys and canned goods for the Brentwood Regional Community Chest.
The Baird Circle neighborhood is a small development with a close-knit community that regularly hosts block parties and holiday gatherings.
This year, in lieu of their annual Christmas party, the cluster of 50 homes decided to use their energy to collect toys for the Brentwood Regional Community Chest (BRCC) Holiday Toy Drive.
“Usually, every Christmas we host a holiday party,” said Baird Circle resident Catherine Morgan, who noted pre-COVID BBQs and karaoke parties were common on her street. “This year we decided to come together for a bigger effort, which is to give back to the community in need.”
Morgan spoke with BRCC secretary Lil Pierce and learned most of the organization’s collection barrel locations had been eliminated by COVID-19. Many municipal spots – like city halls, fire stations and schools – were closed or unable to collect toys due to health restrictions.
“Catherine was very enthusiastic, and they put together a toy drive and it was wonderful,” Pierce said. “The community really stepped forward. I am so proud of people in Brentwood, they really stepped up and to have a small neighborhood group like that supporting their neighbors, it’s just a wonderful thing.”
Morgan spread the word about the toy drive through the neighborhood’s homeowners’ association (HOA) and the donations poured in.
“We were able to raise two barrels full of toys,” said Morgan. “Then we went over and volunteered and actually stuffed bags full of toys with the Brentwood Regional Community Chest . . . it’s completely volunteer-run and it was amazing to be a part of it from beginning to end.”
On Dec. 19, 500 East County families received a full holiday meal, a bag of age-appropriate toys and canned goods through BRCC. Donations of food and toys from groups like the Baird Circle community made the event possible.
Though only three years old, the homes on Baird Circle have fostered many traditions and hosting a toy drive was not their first effort at helping those in need. Last year, the neighborhood started a free library and added a free pantry feature when the pandemic started.
“I can’t tell you how often the groceries were taken, and then new donations showed up,” Morgan said of the pantry. “It’s a really cool community and really cool to see that movement of giving back and how it spreads.”
Morgan said she hopes members of the Brentwood community will continue to help BRCC, and other organizations like it, throughout the year.
“If people want to help and get involved at a deeper level in the community, it doesn’t just have to be during Christmas,” she noted. “BRCC needs a lot of help all year, and if it’s not them, there are so many organizations just in our little town of Brentwood. We can help to give back in this crazy time and it really does make a big difference.”
For more information about BRCC, visit http://www.brcchest.org/.