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Children’s Guardian Home Blessed By H-B Toy Drive
HB Toys 12-13
The Bacigalupi family and H-B will once again host the annual Children’s Guardian Home Toy Drive and dinner on Monday, Dec. 18 beginning at 6 p.m. Unwrapped toys, coats and school supplies may be dropped off at any time prior to the event. Photo Contributed

Christmas will be a bit brighter for the youngsters of Oakdale’s Children’s Guardian Home, thanks to the combined efforts of Elsie Martin, the Bacigalupi family and the H-B Saloon.

On Monday, Dec. 18, the H-B will host a fundraising dinner and Toy Drive to benefit families of the Children’s Guardian Home. Dinner will be $10 a plate with all proceeds given to the fund, unwrapped toys for young children may be dropped off that night or any day leading up to the event. A ravioli dinner with bread and salad will be offered up at 6 p.m. that night. The event is open to the community.

“It’s mainly the presents they bring for the little kids and then the money for the dinner we donate to them and they do shopping for the older kids,” Jackie Bacigalupi said of what has now become an annual event.

In addition to toys, Guardian House co-founder Elsie Martin has also requested winter coats and school supplies for the children.

“School supplies was one of the things Elsie was really wanting for them last year,” Jackie continued.

As an original board member and longtime friend of the late Auggie Martin and his wife Elsie, Mike ‘Bachi’ Bacigalupi shared the family is happy to present the event to the community of Oakdale.

“For the first four years we did the dinner at the bar,” Bachi said of the initial years of the Guardian Home fundraiser dinner.

“He said Bachi, I want you because I know you’ll do it and we’ll do it,” Bachi continued of an early conversation with Auggie. “Then it grew so big that we said we can’t do 800 to 1,000 people.”

But they can do a ravioli dinner. Something not new to the family, as it was once customary to do for the Spirit of Oakdale Thanksgiving Dinner. For years in early November the family would host a similar event for Vickie Thompson and her team to have toys to hand out at the annual Thanksgiving Dinner.

With the onset of COVID in 2020 and the changing of the Thanksgiving Dinner duties to the Lions Club, the Toy Drive portion of the Spirit of Oakdale Dinner was retired.

“The very first fundraiser we ever had, they did the food and they did the drink,” Elsie’s son Joe Martin confirmed. “From the beginning they’ve (Mike and Susan Bacigalupi) been there. They were the very first ones my mom and dad talked to.”

Location was a big draw.

“A lot of people meet there, it’s a networking spot,” Joe continued of the iconic Saloon and restaurant. “It’s a cornerstone for this community. You know things come and go. H-B has never came and went, it’s always been here. There’s a reason for that.”

According to Jackie, last year the event was able to send over 200 toys off to the Guardian Home as well as $400 for spending on the older children.

“It brings joy to us to bring joy to others and our kids, they love it,” Jackie said of the family involvement, adding that the true heroes in all of this are the Martin family and their board for all they do for the Guardian Home.

“It’s great. It makes us feel so, so good,” Joe said of the upcoming event. “They’re leading the way on it. They’re the ones that have stepped up and got the community to pull for the Children’s Guardian Home. We talk about the networking; they’ve networked this into their daily business for this Toy Drive.”

Joe further shared last year, following the dinner, he and his mom made multiple car trips to haul off all the toys, backpacks and school supplies donated.

“It all doesn’t fit in the back of the pick-up anymore. I’m going to bring a trailer this year,” Joe said with a chuckle.

Ever the thinker, as well as giver, Jackie pointed out the event is being hosted a bit later in the season this year, to accommodate for the community members and regular customers who are out of town for the NFR in Las Vegas.

“I think people do it, because they feel like they gave something at Christmas,” Bachi said. “I mean that’s how we feel. We want to give to the people in our community. We’re fortunate enough that we don’t need anything, but there’s people that aren’t and you want them to have as good of a Christmas as you’re having.”

“We live in such a great community, we really do,” Jackie added to her father-in-law’s statement. “Everybody always wants to help and give what they can and some people just donate too because they know it goes to something good.”

While the family would love to see the bar, as well as the dining area packed with people in the holiday spirit stopping by with an unwrapped gift and enjoying a meal, it’s not a requirement to give. Through the month of December up to the night of the event, unwrapped toys may be dropped off during normal business hours. The H-B opens at 11 a.m. daily and is closed Sundays and Tuesdays.

“It means everything to us, it really does,” Joe stated of the Bachi family and community kindness, “because they’ve done this out of the goodness of their heart. They stepped up and did it without even being asked to. They asked how they could help and then between the Bachi family and Jackie they stepped up in a big way.”

For the key organizer and executor of the night, Jackie and Bachi shared similar sentiments regarding the Martin family, as well as the Oakdale community.

“I really do love watching Elsie be amazed by all the community support,” Jackie said on what she enjoys most. “You know she’s done her fundraiser every year, you know she’s seen it all. But how special to see her amazed by the people who still give and come together for the holidays.”