File photo: Tito Rodriguez, also known as Hood Santa of the Local Hearts Foundation, stacks boxes of frozen turkeys for the Diamonds and Turkeys giveaway event in Long Beach in 2018. Courtesy photo.

An estimated 1,000 Central Long Beach families will be able to receive free turkeys at MacArthur Park this Saturday, in time for the Thanksgiving holiday, during the fourth annual Diamonds and Turkeys giveaway event.

The giveaway is organized by Tito Rodriguez, a local philanthropist known as Hood Santa, through his nonprofit Local Hearts Foundation and in partnership with the skateboard hardware company Diamond Supply with the goal of helping families in need during the holiday season.

Usually taking place in West Long Beach, Rodriguez is excited to bring the event to MacArthur Park, near where he grew up.

Rodriguez said his family didn’t have a proper Thanksgiving until he was 12 or 13 years old when they went to his aunt’s house for the holiday and he hopes by donating turkeys others can have the same opportunity.

“The holidays are such an important time for families to be together,” Rodriguez said.

Families line up to receive free turkeys as part of the Diamonds and Turkeys giveaway event in Long Beach in 2018. Photo courtesy of Tito Rodriguez.

New this year, the event will also feature a skating competition (a mobile skate park will be installed for the occasion) and free swag from Diamond, including sweaters, hats, wallets and shoes.

Rodriguez has even enlisted childhood friend Junior Salazar of the Bomb Azz Tacos food truck to provide free tacos for attendees.

The event will coincide with Bomb Azz Tacos’ one-year anniversary, Salazar said, and is a way for him to thank the community for their support.

“Long Beach has been good to me,” Salazar said.

Rodriguez, who recently organized a peace march in response to a mass shooting last month at a backyard party, said he hopes the event will draw the area’s diverse community members and bring some unity.

“It’s time for us to like our neighbor,” Rodriguez said.

The Diamonds and Turkeys giveaway event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 23 at MacArthur Park, at 1321 E. Anaheim St. If you are interested in volunteering or donating to Local Hearts Foundation click here

Stephanie Rivera is the community engagement editor. Reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter at @StephRivera88.