Williams boy hosts fourth annual toy drive for local foster youth

Williams Upper Elementary School student Phillip Santillan will be collecting new, unwrapped gifts through Dec. 15 as part of his fourth annual toy drive for Colusa County foster youth. 

One local boy has made it his holiday mission to make sure every child in Colusa County gets at least one Christmas present. 

Now in seventh grade, Williams Upper Elementary School student Phillip Santillan is organizing a holiday toy drive for the fourth year to provide gifts to foster youth in Colusa County. 

Phillip said he is inspired each year to continue to host the toy drive so he can help more kids. 

“There are always foster kids and always kids that don’t have anything,” said Phillip. “I hope to do the toy drive even when I’m out of school.” 

Phillip said he did not host the toy drive last year because schools were still utilizing distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but he is glad to be able to host it again this year. 

Inspired by an assignment in his third-grade class, Phillip approached his teacher with the idea to organize a toy drive and donate the toys received to foster children within the county in 2017.

Melissa Santillan, Phillip’s mom, said Phillip had told her he would be sad if he did not get anything for Christmas and wanted to help the many foster kids that don’t get a lot, or anything, for Christmas. 

His teacher at the time, Mrs. Gonzalez, thought it was a great idea and helped make it a reality, according to Melissa. 

That year, Phillip collected more than 400 donations. 

While Phillip said he does not have a goal in mind this year, he hopes that the drive will be as big as it was that first year. 

“I had the back of my dad’s truck full of toys,” said Phillip. 

New, unwrapped gifts will be collected at the Williams Elementary, Williams Upper Elementary and Williams High School offices through Dec. 15. 

At the conclusion of the toy drive each year, Phillip and his father collect all of the donations from the dropoff locations and take them to the  Colusa Family Resource Center, which distributes the toys to foster children throughout Colusa County. 

“His dad and I are beyond proud,” said Melissa. “Phillip has always been a sweet and thoughtful person but is it truly nice to see him want to give back to kids in our community.”

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