Just moments after a van pulled up to Thursday's CHiPs for Kids Downtown Toy Drive, a collective gasp rose from the assembled crowd.
Ben Geissel, self-described "head broom pusher" at Galbraith Van & Storage Inc., unloaded two brand new children's bicycles from the company vehicle.
Geissel said the Bakersfield-based moving, storage and logistics company was donating the bikes to local children "because we can."
"It's always good to give things away," he said.
So it would seem, judging by the event's results: 486 toys, 214 stocking stuffers and $2,503.72 in cash -- all gathered in the course of six hours at The Bakersfield Californian's parking lot at H and 18th streets.
The event's unofficial master of ceremonies, California Highway Patrol spokesman Robert Rodriguez, was impressed at Galbraith's largesse.
"See? That's what it's all about," he said.
Rodriguez quickly eased Geissel's concerns about parking so close to orange pylons set up at the intersection's southeast corner to accommodate gift drop-offs. There would be no ticket for Geissel.
Thursday's generosity easily exceeded that of last year's toy drive, when donors pitched in 520 toys, including stocking-stuffers and playthings purchased with the $150 in contributed cash, said one of the organizers, Nancy Chaffin, vice president of administration and operations at The Californian.
The cash will be spent on additional toys. Then, gifts will be sorted and presented Dec. 23 to children who local collaboratives identify as being at risk of missing out on holiday gifts, Chaffin said.
"They get to pick what they want," she said, adding that the goal is to benefit as many as 5,000 children.
The CHP has hosted similar toy drives for more than 10 years, though this is only its fourth in Bakersfield. The Californian began participating three years ago, although it was conducted among employees only until last year.
Among Thursday's donations were three large boxes that Atlas Pool Care filled with gifts.
"We got all our team together to pitch in to help the community," said company owner Brad Ward.
The Californian will continue accepting toy and cash donations through Wednesday at the newspaper's downtown location, 1707 Eye St.
Staff writer Laura Liera contributed to this report.