Photos: Hood Santa visits Central Long Beach for a toy giveaway
The Hood Santa was dressed to the nines in his red suit as he walked a line of thousands Saturday, greeting as many people as he could ahead of the 12th annual Local Hearts Foundation toy giveaway.
“It’s amazing to be able to come back to the community here, my old neighborhood, and bless this little part of Long Beach,” Rodriguez said.
The line of over 6,000 people stretched half way around MacArthur Park in Central Long Beach. Dajohn Grayson and his 6- and 8-year-old kids lined up for the event at 8 a.m. It was nearly noon by the time they reached the front of the line and picked out their toys but it was worth the wait.
“This is three years running for us at this event, it’s like a tradition,” Grayson said. “It’s also good community outreach—we get to see each other, people we maybe haven’t seen in a while, and check up on one another.”
At the start of the event, each child was allowed to choose two toys. Due to the overwhelming turnout, however, the limit was reduced to one to ensure each child would receive a gift.
In all, over 10,000 toys were given out, about 90% of which were donated by SOS Booking, which hosts an annual hardcore music festival called For the Children. A new, unwrapped toy is required for entry into the two-day music festival that took place Dec. 17 and 18.
Rodriguez said he grew up extremely poor, so he knows how hard the holiday’s can be for some families. He noted that some families that attended the event had as many as six kids and that even spending as little as $30 on each could spread some families too thin.
“It means a lot because the kids only got a certain limit of toys because of our budget,” Regina Franco said of her three kids who are 6, 9 and 13 years old. “People wait hours just to get presents and it means something to these kids. They leave with a smile.”
Support our journalism.
Hyperlocal news is an essential force in our democracy, but it costs money to keep an organization like this one alive, and we can’t rely on advertiser support alone. That’s why we’re asking readers like you to support our independent, fact-based journalism. We know you like it—that’s why you’re here. Help us keep hyperlocal news alive in Long Beach.