Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this


More than 25,000 expected to attend

East County News Service

December 2, 2017 (San Diego’s East County -- On Saturday, Dec. 9, 25,000 people are expected to attend the 21st annual Toys for Joy event sponsored by the Rock Church at from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The event has grown over the years and expanded to four locations, including El Cajon Valley High School, Lincoln High School, Southwest High School, and Vista High School.

Twenty years in the running, families start lining up as early as 4:00 p.m. the day before for an opportunity to pick up toys and groceries for the holidays. Now more than ever, Toys for Joy has become a tradition that San Diego families count on every December, meeting the needs of thousands.

Over 5,200 people attended the last event at the El Cajon Valley High School. Over 5,800 toys were distributed throughout the day, and 2,500 bags of groceries distributed to families. California Senator Joel Anderson was one of those who attended the event and helped to hand out toys.

“Toys for Joy makes San Diego’s holiday season a happier and more meaningful time,” said California Senator Joel Anderson, 38th District. “I am grateful for and inspired by Pastor Miles and his volunteers who visit our neighborhoods year after year to continuously support local families in need, and I am looking forward to joining them again this year.”

Toys for Joy is more than just a toy. Not only will children up to 11-years old receive a free toy, but families will have the opportunity to receive free lunch, clothing, groceries and entertainment. Many volunteers, sponsors, and community partners’ work together to spread pervasive hope through this significant event. 

According to a study by the Center for Policy Initiatives, the 2016 poverty rate in San Diego County was 12.3 percent, with the city of El Cajon showing the highest poverty rate of cities in San Diego County. CPI is a think tank that advocates for working families.

According to the USDA, there are many households that experience food insecurity. This means individuals are uncertain of where their next meal will come from. In San Diego County alone, there are 137,450 children experiencing food insecurity in their households. During the holiday season, it is even more difficult for families to provide toys and clothes for their families without sufficient funds and resources.

Toys for Joy brings hope by providing a toy, lunch and groceries to those in need. These toys are a way to change the lives of families in San Diego, and fulfill the main mission of the Rock Church to bring people together and transform the lives of San Diego by sharing the meaning of Christmas.

“Toys for Joy represents an opportunity for us to not just be the church at 805 Jackman Street in El Cajon, but to be the literal hands and feet of Jesus in the community,” said Pastor Ricky Page. “The message of Jesus Christ is the hope that we bring, but a physical meal and a physical toy also offers hope to poor community that rarely have enough food on the table and absolutely no option to have a toy on a holiday that is centered on toys. El Cajon offers a unique challenge with thousands of immigrants from the Middle East who really have come here with just the shirt on the back. There are roughly 95,000 people living in El Cajon. Last year, we saw 6% of the population show up to receive gods’ goodness! This year we would like to see that number grow significantly.”

The event has grown to toys, food and more.  Last year alone, Toys for Joy gave away over 25,000 toys, 15,100 bags of groceries, 312,500 articles of clothing and shoes to brighten the lives of many San Diego kids. This event is free and open to the community.   

To make a difference in the life of a child this Christmas, there are three ways to be part of Toys for Joy:

Volunteer. Sign up to volunteer with family and friends at

Give. Purchase a toy from the online wish list at  

Partner. Monetary and/or in-kind gifts can be contributed online at   

Toys for Joy would not be possible without the generosity of monetary gifts and/or donations.

Platinum Sponsors include: Apokaradokia, MetroPCS, Rock Thrift Store, San Diego Food Bank

WHEN:   Saturday, December 9, 2017

               9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.


1.    Abraham Lincoln High School (media site) open to community

              4777 Imperial Avenue, San Diego, CA 92113

2. El Cajon Valley High School - open to community

3. Southwest High School - open to community

4. Vista High School - open to community

In community partnership with City of El Cajon, City of San Diego Special Events, El Cajon Valley High School, Lincoln High School, Porter Elementary School, San Diego Parks & Recreation, San Diego Police Department, San Diego Sheriff Department, Vista High School, Southwest High School, and over 20 sponsors from all areas of San Diego will be represented.


Toys for Joy was founded by Pastor Miles McPherson of the Rock Church in 1996 to partner with local churches and community businesses and serve Southeastern San Diego. For the past 20 years, Toys for Joy has impacted thousands of lives through volunteers that provide toys, clothing, and food, in addition to health and community services. For more information, visit


Rock Church is San Diego’s largest church, the 19th largest church in the United States, according to Outreach Magazine's 2014 "100 Largest Churches in America" report.



Error message

Support community news in the public interest! As nonprofit news, we rely on donations from the public to fund our reporting -- not special interests. Please donate to sustain East County Magazine's local reporting and/or wildfire alerts at to help us keep people safe and informed across our region.