Sowing Seeds for Life, founded by Glendora resident Vicki Brown, held its fifth annual “Christmas in the Park” food and toy giveaway Saturday in Pomona.
Santa Claus, as expected, showed up.
And there were also two surprise celebrities -- former child actor Rodney Allen Rippy, the cute kid in the Jack-in-the-Box commercials of the early 1970s, and former boxing champion Sugar Shane Mosley of Pomona.
More than 400 families from the East San Gabriel Valley came out to Ganesha Park to enjoy the festivities and listen to an impressive array of singers – but mostly to pick up a cart full of non-perishable food items and toys for the kids.
The major food contributors were Cornucopia Foods, a division of Fairplex, and the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.
The toys came from various sources, including Damien High School, which besides raising money for Sowing Seeds for Life also annually conducts a toy drive. This year the toy drive was held Nov. 2 when the Damien football team played Charter Oak. The school’s Community Service Outreach Club again spearheaded the toy drive.
In all, Sowing Seeds had more than 600 toys and stuff animals on hand Saturday, but not all were given away. Those that remained will be distributed in the afternoon of Dec. 19, when Sowing Seeds conducts its next regular food pantry in the DPI Labs parking lot at 1350 Arrow Highway in La Verne. Brown, the Sowing Seeds CEO, is also the CEO of DPI Labs, an aerospace engineering company.
Santa will also be there Dec. 19 posing for photos with both young and old.
Among the entertainers performing at Saturday’s “Christmas in the Park” was Jim Bonner, the son of the late legendary blues and country singer Weldon “Juke Boy” Bonner. Jim Bonner brought along Rippy, who is now 44 and lives in Pasadena. He became famous at age 5 for saying “It’s too big to eat” about a Jack-in-the-Box hamburger.
Other performers at Saturday’s event included 2 U Neek, also known as Texas Twins Ashley and Ashton, Britney Young, the daughter of event coordinator Paulette Young, and young members of the Barstow Academy of Dance ages 4-10.
Lines for the food and toy giveaways moved quickly, thanks to the more than 150 volunteers on hand. They included a group of students from La Verne University and another group from Damien High School.
Sean Herbert of Seattle and Don Sortland of Jamestown, N.D., who are with Sands Aviation, were among the volunteers. They have been in San Bernardino working on a corporate jet owned by the Venetian Resort Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and took the day off to lend a helping hand. Sands Aviation is affiliated with DPI Labs.
Also at Ganesha Park Saturday was a film crew from Azusa Pacific that is working on a documentary about Sowing Seeds for Life, a charitable non-profit that feeds nearly 6,000 people in need every month. It was founded by Brown in 2007.
For further information about Sowing Seeds for Life, its food pantries or how to volunteer, call DPI Labs at 909 392-5777.