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LAPD holds toy giveaway for South LA residents after arsonist burns down beloved church

Santa makes an unexpected visit in October to help children in South LA
Santa makes an unexpected visit in October to help children in South LA 02:05

Santa made an unexpected visit in the middle of October to help children and families in South LA after an arsonist burned down a beloved church.

"You know, Christmas early is always nice," Pastor Edward Jenkins said as he grinned. "There are some things kids will never forget."

A little more than a month ago the arsonist burned down the 79-year-old Victory Baptist Church. 

"We just want the community to know that the lack of building or a structure does not impact in a way that we become ineffective or lackadaisical," said Jenkins. 

 Jenkins was approached by the Los Angeles Police Department to hold a toy giveaway in the church parking lot to help bring some joy to a community that has been through so much.

"We want the children and everybody in the community that there is excitement and happiness that we can bring," said Captain Alex Baez. 

The gifts and event left hundreds of children happy and excited despite the devastation they have recently faced. For parents, events like this can make all the difference, especially as times get tough. 

"Because sometimes we don't work the whole time or we have to pay rent," said mother Evelyn Abarca. "And we don't have the money to buy toys for Christmas so they can have something special for them."

It will likely be two to three years before the church is rebuilt, but in the meantime, the Jenkins said the parish will continue to serve the community by offering weekly food pantry and programs for kids.

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