Annual event brings out best for the community ◆ By Mike Hiles
Soboba Gives Back is a phrase that was coined with its first Toy Drive many years ago. It has since been used throughout the entire year in various ways as the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians tribe, through its Soboba Foundation and Soboba Casino, continues to support people and organizations in its neighboring communities.
The marketing department at Soboba Casino does a tremendous job organizing the very popular Toy Drive where the public donates a toy valued at $20 or more in exchange for a voucher that adds $40 in free slot play to their Club Soboba account. Memberships can be opened the same day.
"The Soboba Foundation is the driving force behind the Toy Drive," Marketing Operations Manager Thomas Riesgo said. "Our role is to help facilitate the intake and distribution of the toys. It is always a joy for the members of the Soboba Casino team to assist in this endeavor."
Beginning Nov. 12 and continuing three more times on consecutive Mondays, the drive will be held in front of the casino. Many volunteers oversee the collection of toys and distribution of vouchers during drive days from noon to 8 p.m.
Riesgo is one of approximately 14 members of the casino’s marketing department that gets involved with the drive each year. Associates of each department participate and volunteer their time to the Toy Drive. About 80 casino employees donate their time while volunteers from the Soboba Foundation, Tribal Membership, Soboba Tribal Preschool, Soboba Fire Department and others also pitch in to ensure success.
Last year, more than 6,000 toys were collected and distributed to various nonprofits, local students and other families in need.
In addition to this special event, Riesgo plans, creates and oversees other special events, promotions and entertainment for Soboba Casino. He also oversees the graphics department.
Leading up to the holidays, Riesgo and his team have been busy preparing promotions for November that are designed to harness the Thanksgiving and fall seasons. A "Turkey Takeout" drawing will be held on Fridays and Saturdays in November where guests can win their share of up to $160,000 in prizes, including the grand prize of a 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC on November 30. "The Facts of Spice" offers free slot play to lucky guests at the casino on Sundays where guests will be presented with different Pumpkin Spice-themed items and will try to guess which one is the real product.
The entire marketing department is involved with the creation of creative materials from top to bottom that utilize television, radio, news print, periodicals, outdoor billboard campaigns, direct mail, e-mail campaigns and social and digital media to spread the word about the great things happening at the casino.
They also use many of these outlets to tantalize viewers that are anxiously anticipating the opening of the replacement casino at the corner of Lake Park Drive and Soboba Road. And word of mouth via community events and other organizations has also helped build excitement for the grand opening.
"It is an exciting time for the casino as we move to the replacement facility," Riesgo said. "The excitement is palpable as every member of the team is contributing ideas to bring us to a whole new level."
The Soboba Gives Back Toy Drive will be from 12 to 8 p.m. on the following Mondays: Nov. 12, 19 and 26 and Dec. 3. The Soboba Casino is at 23333 Soboba Rd. in San Jacinto. For each toy valued at $20 delivered to Soboba Casino, with a receipt, a voucher will be given for $40 in Free Slot Play. Restrictions apply.