Nature’s Medicinal donates to Toys For Tots

December 26, 2006

Jason Friedly, Bakersfield Daily Californian

The holiday spirit was in full force throughout the month of December at Nature’s Medicinal in Bakersfield.

The medical marijuana dispensary, at 323 Roberts Lane, donated more than 500 toys to the U.S. Marine Corps’ Toys For Tots program.

The donations were given by patients of the dispensary.

“Our patients took the time to go out and purchase these toys,” said Nature’s Medicinal employee Gilbert Banuelos. “Not only did they show their generosity, but they displayed unselfishness, setting aside their physical maladies in order to provide for the needy children. That’s what it’s all about. Seriously, some of these people also have transportation issues yet they still came through for the children.”

Patients were offered a discount on their medicine in exchange for a new and unwrapped toy. These items were in turn donated to the cause.

“It feels good to help the children,” said medical marijuana patient Jessica Franco. “It shows a sense of responsibility to our community, and right now children are the focus.”

Nature’s Medicinal has also donated to the Bakersfield Homeless shelter this year and has plans to include more charitable organizations in the future.

“Each year we plan on allowing our donations to grow,” said Banuelos. “Not only in the amount, but in the organizations as well. Our patients and employees are kind and generous people who want to give back to the community. That’s all, that’s it.”

Strangely enough Nature’s Medicinal has encountered some organizations who would either not accept donations or only receive them on the basis of the dispensary’s anonymity.

“We offered some organizations assistance as well,” said Banuelos. “ A few turned down our offers and others accepted them, but seemed a little bit apprehensive on taking them. People have a certain image etched in their minds about medical cannabis, and hopefully in the long run this stigma will change.”

The toy drive however will remain a yearly tradition.

“We were very pleased that the Marines allowed us to participate, and even though they are changing their program coordinator next year, we hope they will allow us to help as well,” said Banuelos. “They were very open-minded when we contacted them about our intentions and I feel we all came out winners. Especially the children who get to have a Christmas. It’s a win-win situation.”

Jason Friedly is a journalism student at Cal State Bakersfield. He is a lifelong resident of Bakersfield.

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