The woman put her hands out, made fists, and quickly moved them up and down, one after another.
“Oh, a drum?” asked Jessica Yaffa, the volunteer who was manning the massive toy table.
The woman nodded that Jessica had understood her correctly.
“OK,” Jessica responded. “I’m sure we have a drum here somewhere.” Jessica alerted the handful of volunteers near her, including her son, and they sprang into action to locate a drum for the deaf guest who hoped to give it to her toddler son so they could create a way to communicate with each other.
The volunteers searched anxiously among the thousands of toys donated to Rock Church’s 18th Annual Toys for Joy event that seeks to spread the love of Christ by showering guests with a free lunch, clothing, groceries, services, games with the entire family, and a toy to every child in attendance. But they seemed unable to find one.
“Well?” Jessica asked her son after some time had passed, determined not to disappoint.
“We can’t find one,” he replied.
“Stay at it.”
Finally, after a few more nervous minutes had gone by, an Elmo toy was located and brought to Jessica.
“Will this do?” her son asked. She took it and showed the woman who had patiently waited. Elmo is holding a drum.
The woman gave the most full-throated silent cheer at the event.
It was just one of the thousands of life-changing moments that occurred on this day, a day that ultimately offered every guest the greatest gift of all: the chance to ask Jesus—the Savior of all mankind—into their heart. There were 597 decisions made for Christ that day.
The event that started small during the Christmas season in 1996 by Rock Church’s Senior Pastor, Miles McPherson, has grown so rapidly that moving to larger venues has been necessary several times over the years. In 2014, the event has expanded to simultaneously occur in three locations around San Diego: Central San Diego, North County and East County. With 1 in 5 children living in poverty in San Diego, something as simple as a toy for Christmas and a meal can have a great impact. Next year, the event will add another location in South County—and there are plans for more.
Walking the North County location at San Marcos Middle School, Pastor McPherson saw only a portion of the more than 1,800 kids and parents who attended the event. All were playing together, opening boxes of toys, riding new bikes, receiving free groceries, listening to the Gospel message, being entertained and eating hot dogs. Not to mention the 366 volunteers handing out toys, serving the free lunch and praying for attendees. Without them this event would not be possible.
“If you want to know what Rock Church is about, it’s about today,” McPherson says. “This is all Jesus wants from the church—that they would be united as one and people would experience the love of God.”
»» To read recaps from the other Toys for Joy locations, click here!