On Wednesday, senior volunteers of the California Highway Patrol met with Walmart staff to present a plaque to the Tehachapi store for its participation in the CHiPs for Kids toy drive last Christmas season. On hand for the presentation were, from left, Steve Ryono and Mickey Blanks, senior volunteers, Vera Ricardo, front end coach, and Amy Garcia, manger, both of Walmart, Victor Yaw, CHP senior volunteer administrator, Richard Welsh, CHP senior volunteer assistant administrator, and Officer Aaron Maurer.

The California Highway Patrol can be found every day keeping our highways safe and secure. However, during the Christmas holiday, officers go above and beyond the call of duty through its outreach program, the CHiPs for Kids toy drive.

Last Christmas, senior volunteer officers of the Mojave CHP office collected more than 3,300 toys for the children of eastern Kern County. The officers said they could not have done it without the help of Walmart stores in Tehachapi and Ridgecrest.

Officer Aaron Maurer joined senior volunteer officers Wednesday to present a plaque to Amy Garcia, manager of the Tehachapi Walmart, in recognition of the store collecting the most toys even though the chain had just opened its doors locally.

"We are presenting them with a plaque to say thank you for allowing us to have our booth inside Walmart to collect toys which we were then able to distribute out to this community and the other communities in the area," Maurer said.

The manager, who was taken by surprise by the presentation of the plaque on behalf of store #4317, said she was happy to receive it.

"Happy to be able to help the community, happy that we were able to bring everyone in and that the community was dropping off gifts and such. It was an amazing feeling," said Garcia.

Each year, CHiPs for Kids collects new, unwrapped toys, which it distributes to children in need.

"This year, your store raised the most," Victor Yaw, CHP senior volunteer administrator, told Garcia. "We have other organizations that give us small amounts, and customers that come in and donate toys, too. I look forward to working with you in the future."

Written on the plaque the officers presented to Walmart was the following:

"Through your sustained support of the CHP, we were able to donate thousands of toys to numerous residents of Eastern Kern County who, without your help, would have gone without. We are proud to serve the residents of Eastern Kern County and proud to be a partner with Walmart Tehachapi and your employees."