Chico local organizes Camp Fire Toy Drive for impacted children


Kozette McGowan and Miranda Hanley, a volunteer, work on sorting the donated toys into categories based on age. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

Among all of the shops in downtown Chico, there is one that stands out with a bright banner and hundreds of toys stacked in the window, as if it were Santa’s Workshop. It doesn’t belong to Santa however, but a Butte County native who has taken the initiative to help children affected by the Camp Fire, filling an empty location at 825 Main Street.

The Camp Fire Toy Drive is located in an empty store on 825 Main Street. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

Kozette McGowan started volunteering at evacuation shelters as soon as the Camp Fire broke out. While volunteering at the Elk’s Lodge shelter, McGowan met a little girl who needed warm clothing, but said the little girl just asked for a toy to hold.

“I couldn’t seem to get her out of my mind,” McGowan said.

That’s what inspired her and her husband to host the toy drive so that children impacted by the Camp Fire can still have the magic of Christmas.

“You’re going to buy dinner before you buy a pogo stick,” McGowan said. But with so much tragedy, the kids need something to make them happy.

Kozette McGowan and Miranda Hanley sort through the donations. Though they are asking for brand new toys donations, they have also received backpacks, clothing and books to give out to children in need. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

All of the toys donated are itemized so that everything that comes in goes out to a child who needs it. The toys are organized by age group so voulnteers can help the parents pick out a gift.

“It might be a little thing, but it can make a big difference,” McGowan said.

Camp Fire Toy Drive donations can be dropped off at 825 Main Street. They will be accepting new toy donations until Dec 18.

Olyvia Simpson can be reached at [email protected] or @OSimpson15 on Twitter