Hoping to beat last year’s goal of 2,000 donated gifts in a COVID-19-plagued year, Mijares Mexican Restaurant partner Tom Recendez held his 15th annual toy drive Monday evening in the parking of his family’s restaurant, to benefit Regis House and the Dolores Mission in Los Angeles.
As Recendez told Pasadena Now, the event began back on his 40th birthday, when he told friends and family that he no longer wanted gifts on his birthday, which falls during the holiday season.
“I told them, ‘Just bring me toys for the children,’” Recendez said, standing in front of a row of shiny and festively decorated hot rods from a local car club.
Beneficiary charity Regis House, in the Pico-Union district of Los Angeles, offers a variety of educational, recreational and social service programs at low or no cost, and is funded by the Juniors of Social Service, private donations and foundation grants, according to their website.
“We believe that change can be accomplished by developing awareness and interest where the needs of the neighborhood are concerned,” the site states. “It is our intention to help families help themselves by working directly with individuals and groups by offering quality educational and social programs, and by providing resources to assist and empower them.”
Dolores Mission Church, in Boyle Heights, was established in 1925 to serve poor Spanish-speaking immigrants of its community. In 1980, Jesuits came to the parish to serve a “neighborhood hampered by poverty and the effects of 7-9 active gangs in the two-square-mile parish,” according to its website. It also offers a wide range of community and faith-based services.
The toy drive event featured food trucks, a car show, beer tastings, and music from official LA Dodgers DJ Severe, along with a visit from a slimmed-down Santa Claus.
As gifts were piled high on a table outside the restaurant, Recendez said he was confident that last year’s goal would be surpassed.
“This isn’t all of them,” he said, pointing to the small mountain of gifts. “I still have a warehouse full.”