Joseph Morrison has spent the past two months collecting toys, bicycles and Razor scooters in San Benito County, hoping that he’ll be able to make at least one kid’s Christmas wishes come true this year.
“I noticed that a lot of kids don’t have that many toys and not many people get that much stuff,” said the 13-year-old Hollister resident. “So, what I thought was I’ll just be Santa and start giving toys to kids.”
He organized a toy drive with the support of the Salvation Army Toy Distribution, which provides toys to more than 240 families and 1,000 children in the county who are in need of assistance.
The San Benito High football team and Beth Carbone of RE/MAX Synergy in Hollister were instrumental for Tuesday’s distribution, which took place at the Salvation Army at 910 Buena Vista Road.
Carbone used her office as the main hub to store the new toys, while the football team volunteered to help distribute them. Joseph said he was a little surprised to see how much support he’s had these past few weeks only because he’s used to doing these kinds of projects by himself.
“I was shocked that people were trying to help me out,” he said.
Joseph mentioned that they were able to hit their goal of 1,000 toys collected. He was rushing to get all the gifts before Friday because he wants to make sure there’s a surprise under the tree for the kids on Christmas morning.
Joseph mentioned that he remembers his parents talked about not having much when they were children. So, he felt like he had to do something to give back since he lives a bit more comfortably than his parents did growing up.
“I just decided that I wanted to give back to people,” he said.
Joseph’s mother, Jessyca Hallett, said she was fortunate to attend college and that they’ve done well for themselves. She taught her son that some families might not have the same opportunities as others, which left an impression on him.
She recalls Joseph was already giving back to the community in San Jose as a member in the Boy Scouts. He continued his generosity this year by giving away a surplus of toilet paper his family had stocked during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“A lot of people in our neighborhood didn’t have any so he would get on his bike and give out things,” Hallett said. “Then he started saying, ‘I think I could do more’ and I asked what he wanted to do. That’s when it became a canned food drive and then every month he was doing something different.”
Joseph recently put together a turkey drive where he hit their goal of 20 turkeys–which came out to 350 pounds–collected and then later donated to the Community FoodBank of San Benito.
Hallett said that her son put in some extra effort and energy into the toy drive. He reached out to his family and friends, having gifts and cash sent from New York, Florida and Canada.
“He’s a leader, he’s kind of shy, but he says this is his journey, so we’re supporting his journey,” Hallett said.
The next part of Joseph’s journey is to start selling t-shirts and then donate profits to the Community Foundation for San Benito County. His advice to other youngsters who want to give back to the community is simple.
“Stick to what you’re doing, just have a good heart with it and ask an adult for help,” he said.