Saturday December 14th, 2019 marked the 11th Annual Seeds of Hope Toy Donation for the children of Colton. Held each year at Leno’s Rico Tacos at 549 West Valley Boulevard in Colton, the toy donation reaches out to local families in need of some Christmas magic to make their children’s holiday a little bit more special.
Headed and organized by Gloria Gaona of Seeds of Hope, this event gave toys to over 400 children. Gaona takes applications for donations to families starting in October each year, and in early December the families are given their invitation to come and pick up the presents at an appointed time on the day of the event. Each family that shows up is treated to a visit with Santa, free raffles, and a fun workshop presented by Home Depot of Rialto, where the children make a craft (this year it was an airplane!).
This year the Census Bureau was on hand to take applications for employment as a census worker, along with the Aldrete Family’s photo booth where pictures are taken and developed on the spot for families to take home as a lasting memory. DJ Rudy Hernandez with DJ Rude Dog played tunes all day to keep everyone’s spirits high. There were tables full of free giveaways with new shoes, hats, tee-shirts and other surprises. A table was set up with coloring pages for the children, alongside a table with decorate-it-yourself cookies to take home.
After parents picked out the children’s toys, they were given a stocking full of goodies and sent on to a table manned by the Seeds of Hope ladies, along with women from the Royal Gents and Impact Church of Colton. Throughout the day other individuals came to help a part of those and other groups, or just as local volunteers. Anthony Martinez was on duty as a comrade-in-arms to the Big Man Himself (Santa Claus), and toy donations kept coming in during the event.
Although the weather was drizzly and cold, the Seeds of Hope event crew didn’t falter at all. “We covered up the presents and everyone else tucked their things in under their canopies, and we stayed until the last family was helped,” said Gaona. Alma Alvarez and her daughter Jackie Angel certainly didn’t let a little bit of drizzle dampen their holiday spirit. “We’ve come here for a few years,” said Alvarez, “We always enjoy it.” “I got my best toy last year here!” gushed her daughter Jackie with a big smile, “It was a transformer robot! I really like coming here!”
“Each year the event gets bigger and better. This year, Leno paved the back-parking lot and it was a blessing to have everything on the pavement. I can’t say enough of what he does to support this event, and how we appreciate his continued support. He and his wife Liz and their boys always go above and beyond for us. Ever since the first time we held this event at his facility about 9 years ago, they have been a great blessing to everyone involved,” said Gaona.
Giving thanks to the many groups that helped, Gaona wanted to let them know how much they were all so appreciated: Leno’s, the Aldrete Family, Liz Pritchard and her group for decorating, the Impact Church of Colton, the Royal Gents, Entertainers Car Club, Sauvecitos Car Club, Home Depot, the VFW Auxiliary and the Colton Woman’s Club. “From the bigger groups to each individual that pitched in to make this event so successful, I thank them from the bottom of my heart,” Gaona said, “It certainly takes a village, and I thank the village.”
Late Friday before the event, there were not enough donated toys to cover all the children who had applied. “But,” Gaona said, “God is always on time! We were picking up toys as late as 9pm on Friday and toys were being dropped off during the event, so we met the need! We are truly appreciative and thankful for everyone’s help!”
If you would like to be involved with the Seeds of Hope Toy Donation for Colton next year, you can contact Gloria Gaona at 909-856-0741 for more information.