Pandemic Can't Dampen Spirit of Giving in San Diego County

 This holiday season, individuals and non-profits across the county are working extra hard to make sure the season is still filled with joy for families in need

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There is no doubt the coronavirus has hit our county hard, but San Diegans are proving they are a persevering community that comes together when times get tough.

“Over a period of two weeks I collected new clothes and new toys to hand out to those families most in need,” Aracely Maldonado said.

Maldonado used her Facebook page to reach out to her community and make sure over a dozen families had something to give their children for Christmas this year. 

“I’m a mom myself and I know what it's like to struggle and not have anything to be able to gift to your child,” Maldonado said.

And she wasn't the only one using her social media for good. Courtney Luna was also able to help over one dozen families through a Facebook post.

“For them to be able to see their kids have a smile on their face, even if it's something so small, it’s about the difference I am able to make,” said Luna.

A difference that goes a long way.

“Someone gave me a gift and then awakened something in me,” said Victor Arreola, founder of the nonprofit Awakening Giants.

Arreola said donors like Maldonado and Luna helped his family when he was young. 

“I said, 'You know, one day I want to be able to do the same thing and give back to a little child,” Arreola said.

And for the past 10 years, he has been giving to children across the county through his nonprofit.

 “Especially this year, the need is huge,” Arreola said. “I told my members, I don't want to say no to any kid.”

Awakening Giants usually receives around 150 to 200 requests for children in need of a gift, according to Arreola. This year they have received over 600. 

“We’re getting so many calls from people in the hospital, people that lost their jobs saying, ‘Can you help us,?” Arreola said. “And I can hear the pain in their voice.”

 It's these painful calls that keep Arreola and his organization fighting, reminding them we are all in this together. 

Awakening Giants hosted their annual toy give away last Saturday, but they told NBC 7 they will continue helping families in need through Christmas.

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