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Orange's Christmas Queen helps make holiday bright for needy children and their families.
Orange County Children's Toy Box director Donna Waugh-Robinson (right) gives volunteers guidelines for distributing gifts to the needy.
ROBERT A. MARTIN/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 12/22/2010
All through December, Donna Waugh-Robinson wears a badge that says "The Christmas Queen." It was given to her by a friend in 1992, the year after she started coordinating Orange County's foremost Christmas-giving program.
It's now called the Orange County Children's Toy Box and it has grown every year, not only by collecting toys for needy children, but also by providing food, clothes and service opportunities for many in the county.
Originally called Orange County Toys for Teens and Tots, it had been sponsored by the county's Junior Chamber of Commerce. But that group disbanded in 1991, and the Harley Owners' Group and Waugh-Robinson took charge.
The daughter of Don "Big Daddy" Waugh of Waugh Enterprises Harley-Davidson, she works in the family business, serves on the county School Board and is the mother of two elementary school children.
"The Marine Corps asked us to change our name from Toys for Tots or become part of their program," she said recently. "But we were already doing a wonderful job and had no overhead, so we just changed the name."
There's no overhead for the annual program because it's all covered by Waugh Enterprises and year-round fundraising.
"We got our seed money from a motorcycle raffle," she recalled, "and that gave us a base for years to come."
This year, nearly 300 families with more than 600 children have applied for assistance, a record number. And, Waugh-Robinson noted, the mood of the season is different.
"The people who have applied this year seem to be humbled and embarrassed about asking for help," she said. "They've never been in this position before.
"And while we continue to get some large checks from the more affluent, we've seen a whole lot of $10 and $15 checks from people who remember hard times in their childhoods."
The program serves families in Orange County only. Anyone who receives food stamps could fill out an application for Christmas help at the county's Department of Social Services.
The application period was supposed to end at Thanksgiving, but Waugh-Robinson was receiving applications until the middle of December.
Holiday Mood is about different experiences of people during the season.
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