Toys for Joy is an annual event, founded by Miles McPherson, the Senior Pastor of the Rock Church, founder of Miles Ahead and Author of Do Something! Make Your Life Count.
The Rock Church partners with schools, businesses and community organizations, as well as local churches to coordinate the Toys for Joy Christmas Event. Toys for Joy seeks to impact the lives of area children through providing a toy and food for their family combined in an event that ministers in both a practical and spiritual way. Over the past 20 years, Toys for Joy has served over 129,000 children and their families.
The Rock Church, known for its service to the community, annually gives out 25,000 toys and nearly 80,000 pounds of food to our San Diego families working hard to make ends meet every day.
The annual early Christmas event, Toys for Joy, celebrated it's 20th year in 2016 with four locations, across the county, serving over 22,000 children and adults. Last year, people waited in line as early as 4 PM the day before. Over the years, guests have endured rain and wind to ensure that their children will have presents for Christmas.
Nearly 19 percent of San Diego County’s children are living in poverty, according to KidsData.org.
"People in the community that we hold it in will stand in line for hours and hours, all day, to get a toy and they have their kid out there,” remarked Miles McPherson, founding pastor of The Rock Church and visionary behind the event. “There are thousands of people standing in line and it is a slow walk."
The outreach event requires the help of over 4,500 volunteers from several area churches who will help provide meals, clothing, and groceries to people in the community that come. Toys for Joy began almost two decades ago in partnership with Victory Outreach Church in San Diego. At that time, The Rock Church did not exist, and it was Miles Ahead Ministry that spearheaded the event.
McPherson recalled that the church and his ministry wanted to use the Christmas season to reach more people for Christ. They noticed that people would sit in church to hear the Gospel and then afterwards go out to buy toys or a Christmas tree. So during the early days of Toy for Joys, organizers gave away toys and Christmas trees only.
“It was a way to conveniently bless them and give the Gospel to them at the same time,” McPherson said.
The event continues to include an evangelism factor, with people in line being offered the opportunity to engage in a one-on-one Gospel sharing time and to visit an on-site prayer tent and sanctuary.
“More than ever, people need to step up and help those who are in need this year,” said McPherson. “Christmas is a time when God showed His love for us, and we’re ready to show God’s love in the communities where we live and serve. That’s the purpose of the church.”
The Rock Church is San Diego’s largest church with more than 12,500 people attending its five Sunday services. Last year, the Rock Church donated 206,366 hours of community service to the City of San Diego, which was valued at $3,559,553.