ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Saturday marked the third annual Angel Tree toy giveaway hosted by People’s Choice Kitchen, and despite some Grinch’s attempting to steal those donated goodies meant for kids, the community’s heart was just too strong.
“This is amazing! It’s amazing — the overflow gifts from my community. The amount of actual kids and parents that came out. It’s truly amazing. It’s humbling,” an elated Evangela Stanley said.
Donning the title of “Van-a-Claus,” the woman behind People’s Choice Kitchen, spent the Saturday before Christmas giving toys to children in need for her annual Angel Tree event.
“This community here is very challenged right now as far as with poverty, they live paycheck-to-paycheck. Covid-19 also played a part so for us to be able to pull this great Angel Tree off again is amazing,” Stanley said.
“Just seeing the kids smiling during the holidays. Many of us are are going through poverty, issues everything like that so being able to give back and enjoy each other and seeing them smiling is great!” volunteer Khadaja Yawn added.
The donation efforts were nearly dampened this year. Earlier this week, the beloved community leader discovered five bags of toys had been stolen out of her truck. However, Rochester immediately returned the love with Wegmans replacing all stolen items, helping Van in her mission to serve the more than 300 families for the holidays.
“It wouldn’t be possible without Wegmans that stepped up and saved me, rescued me when my vehicle was vandalized and my toys were stolen. RPD, Gates Police, Monroe County Sheriff’s, Soccer Sam — the Owner of Salvatore’s, they’re always there for me,” Van exclaims, making sure to include the Pirate Toy Fund in thanks, as well.
And Van also had final message to the Grinches who stole the donated gifts for kids:
“They did not stop anything. They just had the community come together even stronger and make sure that this event was a success.”
An estimated 300 families in need of Christmas toys turned out for the event.