John Sandy of Brea, California, is a man that has taken volunteerism to a new height. Sandy’s holiday season begins each year the day after Thanksgiving as he actively begins soliciting donations of toys and clothing for the County of Orange Operation Santa Claus toy drive for the benefit of children who are in foster placement in the county. Sandy’s organizational skills and persistence over the last 30 years have helped the holiday season be a happier and more memorable time for some of the most needy children in Orange County. Due to his dedication, more than 125,000 children have been served since 1970.
Sandy has been a resident of Brea for 35 years. In 1970, as president of the Kiwanis Club, his role in the support of Operation Santa Claus began with eliciting the help of other service clubs within Brea to donate to this campaign. He was driven by a need to assist children that were abandoned, neglected, hurt and not able to be with their families during the holidays. He was troubled when he considered that the disadvantaged children of Orange County, and especially those living in Brea, might not have any gifts during the holiday season. Those initial contacts have turned into a roster of numerous Brea companies that now lend support to his campaign. Collectively, Brea has one of the highest gift-giving totals to Operation Santa Claus compared to other involved cities.
Sandy’s volunteer efforts are expanded each year. Year after year he tirelessly tops the previous year’s donations from the community of Brea. He has been successful in getting one large corporation in Brea to donate $10 in cash for every gift that their employees donate. Last year, Operation Santa Claus received $11,000 from that corporation. He has single-handedly organized volunteers with Brea service organization, Brea City offices, many local businesses that collect toys within their companies, and organizations or offices that help the les fortunate children in Orange County. Sandy does not receive any monetary compensation, he does not wait for a pat on the back or any special recognition – he just wants to help the needy children of Orange County.
The dedication, hard work and time that Sandy contributes to Operation Santa Claus have significantly impacted the toy collection efforts. If every city in Orange County has a volunteer such as John Sandy, Orange County would not have an abandoned or neglected child, nor a child that lives below the poverty level without a gift on Christmas morning. Although Sandy’s intense efforts begin the day after Thanksgiving, he works all year preparing for the next gift collection season, which once again will bring smiles to the disadvantaged children of Orange County.