VIDEO: From juvenile hall to handing out gifts: How Tito Rodriguez became the Hood Santa

 

The Hood Santa doesn’t come down the chimney on Christmas Eve, but he does spread joy and laughter by handing out toys to children in Long Beach and beyond.

Tito Rodriguez has been giving back to the community he grew up in for the past nine years by giving out toys, turkeys and school supplies to those who might not be able to afford them otherwise. He came to be known as the Hood Santa by dressing up in a Santa suit driving around town.

One kid told him, “Santa doesn’t come here; only the Hood Santa comes here.” The name stuck.

Rodriguez, through his non-profit Local Hearts Foundation, handed out over 1,000 turkeys and 3,000 clothing items for Thanksgiving. He estimates he will hand out 4,000 toys and 2,000 items from his partner Diamond Supply Company at the upcoming Diamond Christmas Toy Giveaway at MacArthur Park on Tuesday—a tradition he’s maintained for nine years now.

While Rodriguez didn’t become a philanthropist for the recognition, Long Beach has celebrated his work this year. He’s been memorialized on two murals and honored by multiple elected leaders.

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