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Woman cooks, collects toys for kids Nohely Mendoza | Sat, Nov 19 2011 12:00 PM

Chula Vista is getting a lot more generous this Christmas with citizens like Charlene Pennington, 44.

Pennington will hold a vegetarian feast at her home for anyone that arrives with a gift for the San Diego Center for Children.

“Every year I do a toy drive because a lot of those children come (to the center) with only a grocery bag full of clothes,” said Pennington. “I host it where I work and also in my home to raise toys for these children.”

According to the center, they have close groups of donors and organizations that also support them, but Pennington’s actions are above and beyond what they imagined.

“A lot of our kids aren’t able to live at home when they receive treatment, having someone like Charlene adds a very special element to the children,” said Alison Beck, Director of Development and Communications for the San Diego Center for Children. “We are very appreciative to Charlene, that is really unique, to have someone that personally invests time and effort at their home.”

Pennington has held this event for three consecutive years so far and says it all began with a day at church.

“Years ago, I went to a church and found out the reverends’ daughter works at the center, I found out more information on what I could do and took it to my work at DZ Akins, then I started to do the fundraiser in my own home,” said Pennington.

Pennington is primarily concerned with the teenagers at the center this year.

“What happens in toy drives is that you get a lot of toys, my focus is on the teenagers because most of the time they are left with nothing,” said Pennington. “We hope to get more Ipods this year,”

Last year, Pennington received a total of $1,000 in toys and hopes to receive 500 gifts this year with at least 40 Ipods, gift cards to movie theaters, clothing stores and the like.

“This year the center lost a third from the state budget cuts, so this year it’s even more important,” said Pennington.

DZ Akins will provide half of the food for the vegetarian feast, and Pennington herself will cook the other half.

The event will be from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 4 at Pennington’s home, 268 Vista Del Mar Court.

This will be the first year that the event will be held at Pennington’s’ home and she says she is expecting about 50 people throughout the day.

“Anyone is invited, my home is open to everyone who wants to come and eat. We will have music and entertainment,” said Pennington.

For more information contact Charlene Pennington at (858) 736-7914.


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