Champs Hand Out FREE Toys to Huge Crowd
Christmas is just days away and in today’s economic times we must remember that there are many families struggling to pay their bills–with no extra money leftover for holiday gifts. A knockout group of champions and pro fighters joined forces to give back to the community and ensure that the kids receive at least one brand new toy at Christmastime.
Here is my special report and photos from the 1st Annual Mikey Garcia Toy Giveaway held at the Last Round Bar & Grill in Ontario, Calif. on Sunday, December 17. This free community event was hosted by the unbeaten Garcia (37-0, 30 KOs), Team Garcia, Supreme Boxing, World Boxing Council (WBC) and Nancy Rodriguez (Senior Executive Director), Pueblo Boxing and more. Over 800 kids and their parents came out to greet the champs and grab a toy.
The prizefighters took time out of their busy schedules and training days to donate their services at this weekend bash. In attendance were current boxers Mikey Garcia, Jessie Vargas, Hugo Centeno Jr., Panchito C de Vaca, Jose “Gallo” Gomez, Joseph Landeros, Brandon Glanton, Ivan “Stryker” Delgado and retired fighter Paul Banke. Recording artist Martin Castillo, artist Alfonso “Poncho” Malagon, cutman Sergio Estrada and the SoCal Boxing Report also lent their support at the fiesta. Jessie Vargas just fought Friday night and Mikey Garcia is embarking on a media tour to promote his February bout versus Sergey Lipinets but both men wanted to be there in person for this first-ever toy giveaway with Team Garcia.
I arrived early at the venue and noticed the long lines of families anticipating their chance to receive a free toy. Some of the fans told me they began lining up before 9:30 a.m. so they could be first to meet their boxing heroes. Throughout the day the lines were steady but nobody complained. The parents told me how grateful they were at this opportunity to see their child pick out a desired toy of their choice. The families explained that not everyone is able to provide a boatload of gifts for their children. For some, Sunday’s free toy would be their only present this season.
The crew at the Last Round Bar & Grill, the WBC, Supreme Boxing and all the volunteers worked tirelessly to provide this special “Santa’s Workshop of Toys” under the sunny SoCal skies. Boxes and boxes of shiny new toys were unpacked as huge stacks of colorful toys, stuffed animals, mini drones, board games, jumbo puzzles, activity sets, etc. were piled sky high. The majority of the goods were donated by Spin Master but the fighters, fans, and boxing friends also brought new items to donate to the crowd as this 2017 toy drive continued.
Many of the sluggers are young fathers themselves and I noticed how patient and kind they were to all the kiddies. I observed the pure joy on the tots’ faces as they entered the outdoor patio leading up to their Meet & Greet with the champs. Early attendees received Pueblo Boxing backpacks packed with assorted small toys and then had the chance to pick out whichever toy they fancied as the boxers helped the boys and girls make their final choice.
Some of the littlest children were shy at first but I watched their eyes widen as they gazed up at all of the mountains of toys right in front of them. The free gifts ranged from baby items to pre-teen presents for both males and females. The mood was festive and fun; everyone patiently waited their turn in anticipation. The guests also enjoyed delicious food and drinks at this popular sports-themed bar and restaurant in the Southland.
I enjoyed seeing this humble group of pugs interact with all the families. During breaks in the action, the athletes told me how much they enjoyed giving back to others and hoping the toys made this year’s holidays a little brighter for those in need. These pro boxers stood hours near the Christmas tree signing autographs, posing for photos and doling out hundreds and hundreds of toys. And yet, they all kept their megawatt smiles as the hours progressed. Scheduled for two hours, the line never ceased and the toys never ran out thus allowing the organizers to continue the free giveaway for almost two extra hours. Again, this KO crew of champs never ever complained. In fact, they all volunteered to stay longer even though they had flights to catch and their own families to go home to.
The holiday season is always hectic for everyone but while chatting with the families one thing was made clear: There were many priceless moments that the families experienced at the toy extravaganza. Several of the parents (and many single moms and dads there too) mentioned to me how generous everyone was yesterday. Some had wondered if they toys would really be free as nowadays things are sometimes too good to be true? So when they took their turn in front of the boxing champions, both the adults and kids couldn’t contain their excitement. Everything was FREE; free entrance to the event, free autographs, free photos and yes, tons of free toys!
It truly was a magical day at the 1st Annual Mikey Garcia Toy Giveaway. The spirit of giving was ever present this past weekend. Sunday’s festivities were a big hit with the massive crowd lining the Last Round Bar & Grill.
Nobody left empty handed. And no one left without a smile on their face.
Photos by Michele Chong
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