toys for tots

Christmas Miracle Comes Early for Some SoCal Kids

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

An anonymous donor bought tens of thousands of dollars worth of toys from a Del Mar business on Thursday to donate to Toys to Tots.

San Diego's secret Santa sent elves to Geppetto’s Del Mar Highlands shop in the morning to choosing a mountain of gifts to donate. They selected a wide variety for children to choose from: scooters, dolls, toys, board games, remote control cars and everything in between.

"This is actually the third year where this very generous anonymous donor has one of his people contact me and tells me he wants to buy a lot of toys for Toys for Tots," said Geppetto’s owner, Brian Miller. "And it's grown. This year he recognized the need in the community is going to so great [due] to COVID that he increased his donation by 20%."

Miller said that he contributed several hundred toys to the "shopping cart after shopping cart -- two truckfuls of toys."

Also on hand were a small group of Marines, who were at Geppetto's to help load up the toys and deliver them to Toys for Tots.

Geppetto's, a locally based chain with 10 stores in San Diego's, has been making kids happy for more than 40 years, store representatives said in a statement sent to the media on Wednesday. The anonymous donor upped his game to $60,000 in toys this year, an increase of $10,000 since 2019.

"We got about 3,000 toys, which will help the kids in the San Diego community in a big way," Marine Sgt. Federico Sanchez Villareal told NBC 7 on Thursday, adding, "the [donor], he decides to remain anonymous, and I think it's better that way 'cause, you know, it definitely plays into the … Santa spirit of Christmas."

The public was able to participate in the good cheer on Thursday, with anyone donating a toy from 6-9 a.m. qualifying for entry for a $100 gift card from the store.

There's still plenty of time to donate to Toys for Tots, of course. All big-hearted folks have to do when they see a box is drop in a new unwrapped toy.

"And this year, more than any other, with what's going on, we need a happy story, and this is it for today," Miller said. "I mean, it's incredible to think of how many thousands of toys he just purchased that are gonna make so many kids in Southern California happy."

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