Sunday’s brunch and toy drive at the Milias Restaurant garnered more than 400 toys for children who will be spending the Christmas holiday in the hospital.
The toys will be delivered to the children’s unit at St. Louise Regional Hospital and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital later this week, said Lena Perez, who helped coordinate the event.
Perez was inspired to collect toys for sick children because of the Christmas two years ago that her own son Nathan spent in the isolation ward at Lucile Packard. Nathan was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010.
“I was so very inspired by all the people that came through,” Perez said.
A particularly emotional moment during the brunch transpired when Julie Orlando, the mother of the 3-year-old Gilroy boy who accidentally shot himself with his father’s weapon in July, showed up to deliver the birthday presents she was never able to give to her son.
“She had all these birthday presents that she didn’t know what to do with. She didn’t want to return them, and had just been saving them. When she read the story about (the toy drive) in the paper, she said she knew what to do,” Perez said.
The two women cried and hugged each other Sunday afternoon when Orlando delivered the gifts.
“I can’t imagine what she is going through. I am just so thankful to still have Nathan,” she said.
Local Marine Jeremy Lucil brought in about 30 toys, said Adam Sanchez, owner of the Milias Restaurant.
Perez said she’ll either be taking two trips to the hospital to deliver the abundance of presents collected, or will be renting a U-Haul for the occasion.
“I can’t even put into words how amazing this is,” she said. “I am extremely grateful and overwhelmed by the community support.”
Last year, Perez collected about 100 toys during a small toy drive at her house. She said she hopes to have even more support next year.
Meals for children 10 and younger were provided free, and about 170 total meals were served during the event, Sanchez said. Danny Martin dressed up as Santa Claus and posed for photos.
“It was pure madness,” Sanchez said. “But it was a great event for a good cause.”