Each year, Rock Church hosts Toys for Joy, a Christmas event where thousands of volunteers come together to donate toys and food to families in San Diego and share the hope in Jesus Christ. Now, in its 19th year, Toys for Joy happens in 4 locations around San Diego and has served over eighty seven thousand families. Annually, Rock Church donates about 17,000 toys and 50,000 pounds of food to families who are struggling to make ends meet.
Earlier in December, Ricardo, from our Pastoral Support Team received a phone call from a woman named Alice. “Alice called the church while I was doing my PST hours,” he said. “She said she wanted to donate some toys that she had made, but she needed someone to come pick them up because she's 91 years old and doesn't drive, so I offered to pick them up.” When he arrived, she had ninety handmade toys to donate to Toys for Joy.
“She was a very sweet lady,” Ricardo said. “When we met up she was telling me that she starts making these toys in January so by December she decides which organization to donate them to. She said she picks a different organization every year. The dolls she makes are knitted and crocheted by hand. She said she could easily sell them but she gets more joy out of giving them to children in need at Christmas.”
Despite being ninety one, Alice still has spunk. In a thick Southern accent, she was eager to share the story of her toymaking. She has been making toys most of her adult life, but in 2002 she decided to start donating them. “I try to give to different organizations every year. All the material is donated to me and it’s just my time that I take to make everything to give away. I could sell them myself, but I’m doing this for the children. I try to do 75 - 100 every year. Now I’m learning how to put the hair on the dolls’ heads, but I’m burning my fingers with my hot glue gun!”
Families have been known to wait in line as early as 6PM the day before to make sure their kids get a toy for Christmas. Each year, about 3,500 volunteers gather (rain or shine) to help make the event a success. Although these events aren’t about the volunteers, it IS these volunteers and donors that make it a success. It’s people like Alice, who spend their entire year looking forward to blessing people, that brighten thousands of children’s day.
“It’s a blessing for me that I’m able to do this,” she said. “I’m ninety two in February! This is a blessing from God to keep me living to be able to do this...with the Lord and if I’m able, I’ll be able to do it next year.”
Toys for Joy 2016 was a great success! We had 19,257 people attended, 22,827 toys were donated, 840 haircuts were given, 3,042 people responded to the gospel, and over 4,000 people served the community! We can’t wait for Toys for Joy next year! If you’d like more information, visit toys-for-joy.org.