Ten-year-old Maribel Rosales tightly clutched a Disney-themed Play-Doh toy while her three younger siblings excitedly scanned the massive room trying to decide which toy was perfect — which would be theirs.
The crowded gymnasium at Lincoln High School in Lincoln Park had been turned into a festive toy room for the day as part of the annual Toys for Joy Christmas charity event.
“These are poor kids,” Maribel’s mother, Marelba Rosales of City Heights, said. “It’s hard for me to get them what they want and get them all to places they want to be. This is really good.”
Around her, thousands of new, donated toys were stacked all the way up the bleachers, which were filled with enthralled children touching as many as they could.
“This is a magical room today because a lot of dreams come true for kids that don’t usually get Christmas gifts,” said volunteer Cory Detwiler. “They get to literally be the kid in the candy store picking out whatever toy they want. It’s awesome to see their smiling faces and the look on their parents’ who are so happy.”
The Toys for Joy event was simultaneously taking place in three other locations Saturday, in San Marcos, El Cajon and South County.
At Lincoln High the line at 10 a.m. stretched for several city blocks, and parking throughout the neighborhood was impossible. Kids were everywhere and a lightness of spirit was palpable.
More than 24,000 new toys had been donated for this year’s event, which marked the 20th anniversary of the program. It also featured 5,000 volunteers, many of them members of the Rock Church which, along with many sponsors and partners, is the driving force behind Toys for Joy.
“We’re giving Christmas to a bunch of families that will leave today with toys and food and clothes,” said Rock Church Senior Pastor Miles McPherson.
“If there’s one message out of all you are seeing, it’s that in our culture today there is so much racial division in our country. That’s not happening today. There’s a unity today. We all can get along. We all should get along,” McPherson said. “And I pray this can be a symbol of a bunch of people who are very different in appearance but really similar inside.”
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SOURCE: The San Diego Union-Tribune – J. Harry Jones