The Maya family (from left) Emilio, Monserrat, Aaliyah, Fernando, Eusebia, Ariel, Viviana and Librado gather Dec. 19 before distributing gift bags to local youth at their first Emilio Maya Memorial Christmas Toy Drive in San Ardo. A total of 80 bags filled with multiple toys each were handed out that day. (Contributed Photo)

SAN ARDO — The Maya family hosted the Emilio Maya Memorial Christmas Toy Drive in San Ardo earlier this month, distributing 80 bags with multiple toys each for area youth.

The Dec. 19 toy drive was held in memory of the family’s patriarch, Emilio Maya, who died on Nov. 9, 2015. The family wanted to honor him and even considered a scholarship before ultimately deciding on a toy drive.

“My father was a great man,” Fernando Maya said. “He was always helping others even when he had nothing to give. He led by example. One thing he always taught us was to always stay humble and give back to our little community of San Ardo.”

Despite being in the middle of a pandemic, the Maya family, including brothers Fernando, Librado and Victor, gathered resources to pay for toys, as well as collected donations from area donors, such as Mike Mullahey.

The toy drive was the first memorial event the Mayas held for their father.

“My mom was very emotional every time we brought this topic up,” Fernando Maya said. “… We purchased most of the toys.”

The family raised a budget of $4,000 for toys and organized them into gift bags in preparation for the event. While organizing, they wondered how many families would show up.

The day of the charity, San Ardo families were the most prevalent, but Fernando Maya said families showed up from King City and Paso Robles, as well.

“I had advertised it on Facebook to try and get kids to come and the response was very well,” Fernando Maya said. “We had scooters and basketballs and stuff not in bags, and we have those out too.”

The Maya family said they followed Covid-19 health guidelines and encouraged all who attended to do so, as well, including face coverings and social distancing.

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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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