After COVID-19 hits OC clinic, holiday event for kids held drive-thru style

TUSTIN, Calif. (KABC) -- Families Together of Orange County will move forward with its annual Christmas Together event drive-thru style after more than 10% of its workforce tested positive for COVID-19.

Christmas Together is usually filled with hundreds of families gathering to eat, sing, play and enjoy the holidays. Kids go home with toys. But the 16th year will look very different.

The event host, Families Together of Orange County in Tustin, was designated as part of the county's COVID-19 testing network. The nonprofit's director of business development, Soledad Rivera, said Friday, on average the clinic tests 130-160 people daily.

The surge hit employees here too.

Nine workers have tested positive since November.

"They're at home. They're doing well. We're checking on them periodically and they call us and let us know how they're doing," Rivera said.

With just more than 10% of its staff out with the virus and a workforce at high risk of exposure, the clinic is forced to shut its doors and go all telehealth.

That's a hard hit for patients here from underserved communities, relying on the behavioral, dental, medical and wellness services the clinic offers.

"We do not negate services to anybody whether you have insurance or you don't have insurance whether you can pay or cannot pay," Rivera said.

Determined to safely bring holiday cheer to their families, staff here will move forward with Christmas Together, drive-thru style with registration required.

"They're gonna drive through a pretty place - a winter wonderland - something that is going to make them feel good, is going to lift their spirits," Rivera said.

Fifteen hundred families were scheduled to stop by during their designated time slots over the weekend. Six thousand donated toys were ready for children to take home.

Looking forward to 2021, the CEO of the nonprofit welcomes donations to meet his greatest goal yet - 10,000 toys.

There will not be drive-thru COVID testing on Saturday, Dec. 19, because of the toy giveaway, but afterward, it will continue Thursday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Appointments are not required.
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