By: Fredwill Hernandez
Excitement was in the air in Long Beach, and it was [very] evident by the multitudes that lined up [on the sidewalk of Atlantic Ave., between 7th and 8th St.] in front of the Long Beach Women’s & Children’s Medical Clinic, on Sat. – Dec. 15th, which became the epicenter [between 11am – 3 pm] for the [Eighth Annual] Diamond Christmas Toy Giveaway.
“During Christmas eight years ago, I started posting on social media that I would reward certain children in Long Beach who [were outstanding students and] had good grades with gifts, initially or the first year I did not have a Santa suit, but I eventually bought a cheap one on ebay for a couple of bucks. I reached out to a few companies, that made socks, shirts or that had [some] gear, one of those individuals was Skateboard pro and entrepreneur Nick Tershay [known as Nick Diamond] of Diamond Supply Co., [Nick] came on-board [and has been my partner] since day one, so I would fill up my Lexus with all this gear and go reward the kids with good grades, that initially set everything in motion,” explained multi-platinum music producer Francisco “Tito” Rodriguez, Founder of Local Hearts Foundation, who in a collaborative effort [predominately] with Long Beach Women’s & Children Medical Clinic [and all the volunteers] made this year’s event happen. “This eventually grew, during one of those visit’s [during the second year] a kid said, the real Santa won’t come here [to this neighborhood], but you will, “you’re the Hood Santa,” so me and my friend [Cinematographer/ Director] HJ Chong, who has supported me [in this cause] since its inception just looked at each other [like wow], and that’s how I became the Hood Santa.”
For three and a half hours, starting at 11 am, [until the line ended and all attendees had passed through], parents walked from the sidewalk through the parking lot [front entrance] of the Long Beach Women’s & Children’s Medical Clinic with their kids who were given [and picked] a toy according to their gender and age, as DASH Radio on-air personality Calypso Aranda [who hosted], made all attendees feel welcome, as DJ Cook El Chef [and Aranda’s DASH radio show DJ Javi] kept the music [spinning] on rotation.
“It was important for us to come out here to make sure my kids have some toys. Right now I’m not at my best with money, we’re usually out here helping, feeding some of the less fortunate [in this area] but currently we are unable to do that,” humbly expressed Darnell Herderson, who moved to Long Beach in 1995, and attended the event with his wife and two kids. “We’re happy, and very appreciative for this event, and for everyone here who has been so kind and nice.”
After receiving their toys, kids had the option of playing in a jumper, eating hot dogs, hamburgers, or nachos, having their face painted, paying attention to a clown who folded balloons into hats or animals [for them], taking a ride on a [motorized] trackless train, or even taking a picture with [either] the Hood Santa or Mickey Mouse who was [also] dressed as Santa.
“I’ve been knowing Tito [Rodriguez] for quite some time, were friends on facebook, and so forth, we supported and attended the backpack give away [for the kids of Long Beach] he also did. During Thanksgiving, we at the clinic gave out about one-hundred and fifty turkeys, I know Tito [through Local Hearts Foundation] gave out about seven-hundred [turkeys], so when I found out about “his plans” for the Diamond Christmas Toy Giveaway, I thought about using the clinic to host and also promote the event since a lot of mothers with kids come through here,” explained Daniela Aburto, Marketing Manager, Long Beach Women’s & Children’s Medical Clinic, who along with [the clinic’s] Dr. Solomon Laktineh, M.D., “were instrumental” in the event’s success. “Just watching the expressions on the kid’s faces made my day and all the hard work and effort was worth the time.”
“The event was a collaborative effort between “a lot of people” [like Representltd., Rastaclat, No Hours [Brand], Razor USA [LLC], People footwear, reebok, Trevor Andrews, the men of the Amity [Foundation] Home,  Long Beach Homegrown, The Pricks Podcast, The Cupcake Factory], and “multiple others” who volunteered and helped out in one way or another, some through donations. Thanks to [all of] them, it was a memorable and successful event,” explained Rodriguez, and as his [Sat. – Dec. 15] Instagram post says, “to all the volunteers Love you Guys this is not possible without you!!”