SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- Volunteers and a young man with firsthand experience with homelessness came together on Christmas Day to bring a little joy in Orange County.
Hundreds at a Santa Ana strip mall received free pancakes, toys, raffle giveaways and laundry service.
Dazzling Garcia and Angel Trejo were grateful for the 11th annual Operation Warm Wishes.
"It's just a random person that is helping our community," Garcia said.
It turned out the man behind Operation Warm Wishes was no stranger to the area around First and Lyon streets. Tyron Jackson is the founder and president. He grew up around here, struggling financially.
"For two years in high school I was homeless and I lived in various motels around Tustin and Santa Ana and it was just hard you know, and I understand what it feels like to have dirty clothes, that's why we're doing the free laundry. I understand what it feels like to be hungry, that's why we're doing the free pancake breakfast. I understand what it feels like not to have toys, that's why we're doing the free toy giveaway. So all this is because of my own experience and I want people to know if I can overcome it, they can too," Jackson said.
Though the gifts were exciting, for many here, it was about a community coming together, to share love and kindness.
Raymundo Tellez wanted to give his free gift to his nephew.
"It's better to give on instead of having it for yourself," Tellez said.
"Some of us don't know each other, but we get to know each other and we end up being good friends," Trejo said.
Evelia Vasquez said she was excited, "because I never got a lot of toys in my life because my mom doesn't really like buying them."
Jackson said 300-400 people benefited from the event.
OC man who overcame poverty gives to hometown on Christmas Day
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