This Christmas season, Magdalene Hope, a local non-profit that reaches out to women who are being trafficked through sex trade, has decided to bring the holiday cheer to the impoverished children of Tijuana, Mexico.
For the first time, the organization is holding a toy drive called Toys for Tijuana, and is asking the community to help make Christmas a little more joyful for the kids living in the slums of northern Baja.
Pastor Doug Bennett, founder of Magdalene Hope Ministry, who is leading the drive, has proven his dedication to the cause.
Bennett plans to dress up as Santa Claus for the kids and will be accompanied by Mrs. Claus, another Magdalene Hope volunteer who will be acting as his translator.
Not only is he putting on the outfit, but he has been growing out his beard, for the first time in his life, since August, and has bleached it just for the event.
"I'm going (to bleach) it again next week, and it's going to be white like snow, like Santa," Bennett told The Californian.
He said he prefers this method because he won't have to deal with a fake beard, which can be "hot, sweaty and itchy."
Bennett said he wanted to help the children in Tijuana because he has seen first hand how impoverished the kids are. Volunteers from the organization go to the city in Mexico multiple times a year and minister to the victims of human trafficking.
"We have a presence there. I'm compelled and pulled to that city," Bennett said. "It's a very poor country, and any time we can bless them, we do. I have strong desire to help them."
Magdalene Hope has partnered with five churches in Tijuana, and those churches will help distribute the toys to the children.
Bennett is hoping to hand out 1,000 toys to the children in Tijuana and so far the goal looks promising. Bennett said one of his vans is full of toys right now, and the organization has rented out a storage unit in San Diego to store the toys before transporting them to Mexico.
The deadline to donate a toy is Dec. 13. Bennett and his team will head to Tijuana Dec. 15. You can drop off a toy at a number of locations: Rusty's Pizza Parlor, located at 1410 Wible Road, 3800 Auburn St. or 1751 White Lane; Luigi's, 725 E 19th St.; Imbibe Wine and Spirits Merchant, 4140 Truxtun Ave.; All American Barbershop, 1831 F St.; Blissful Retreat, 2030 19th St.; Byrdie's Bake Shop, 9910 Rosedale Hwy.; Rescue Grounds Coffee Shop inside Memorial Hospital, 420 34th St.