DUBLIN, CA — During a pivotal and otherwise grim moment of the coronavirus pandemic in California, Valley Christain Center still managed to bring a little cheer to the Tri-Valley and Dublin communities. An idea for a canned drive-thru food drive to help families in need evolved into a Christmas light guided route to an immersive nativity scene — and the response was huge.
Friday was the opening night for "Christmas on the Hill," which drew more than 200 cars, garnered 110 bags of food and $12,500 in cash and gift card donations.
Saturday will be the second and last night the food drive and festive drive-thru, which offers a socially distanced chance to view Santa's workshop and a fully constructed nativity. The manger scene also offers a full cast with live animals including cows, goats and horses.
"We wanted to make people smile and I saw hundreds of smiles last night, it was magical," Roger Valci, lead pastor at Valley Christian Center, told Patch. "It’s a direct response from a plea from our community and politicians...we’re just hoping to gather all these resources so we can get through this challenge of the pandemic."
And all members dressed as the holy family will be wearing masks.
"We’re all going to look back on this pandemic with pain and some laughter," Valci said. "This is the first manger scene you’re ever going to see with people wearing masks but it’s what we’ve got to do."
Valley Christian Center partnered with CityServe to help families in need who have made specific requests online.
"The real need for this is to help families who are struggling in our community," Valci said. "You can be in a car with your kids and just smile — you’re just going to smile when you drop off the food."
After the two-day event, church volunteers, CityServe members and some city council members will team up to package all of the donations and deliver them to families in the community before Christmas.
Volunteers didn't spare a single strand of Christmas lights for the twinkling route and Valci hopes its second night will draw hundreds more cars.
"This was put together in three weeks, and we worked hard to make it festive and safe," Valci said. "We created a place for people to want to be and now they want to give. It’s probably the most glorious food drive you’ve ever seen."
Valley Christian Schools has been open during the entire pandemic, with classes divided into pods, Valci said.
"To have 400-500 kids on campus every day safely all podded up, is quite an achievement," Valci said. "We're very cautious, you can't have events right now and that's the reality...During this event nobody gets out of the car."
"In this pandemic there’s so much levity, we need something to smile about," he added.
Saturday's "Christmas on the Hill" will open at 5:30 p.m. and close at 8:30 p.m. at 7500 Inspiration Drive, Dublin, CA, 94568. Participants are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to donate.
For more information visit: Christmas on the Hill Drive-Thru Event & Food Drive