Believe it or not, some of Santa's elves don't like living at the North Pole, they prefer good ol' sunny Florida.
- Orlando man collects toys to donate to children
- Pecunia's goal this year is to give toys to Puerto Rican children
- He's accepting toys until Dec. 15
One of them lives right here in Orlando, and he welcomed us to his home in Orlando.
As he steps out to the backyard, you can’t tell if there’s furniture. There are at least 300 toys on top of every flat surface. You’ll find dolls on top the chair, towers of board games on the round table right in the middle, and tricycles filed next to each other under it.
For the past 10 years, Harry Pecunia’s backyard has become his toy workshop.
“My wife just looks away sometimes because I have so many toys, I even have to put some of them in the garage,” he joked.
Every holiday season, he organizes a massive toy drive for children in need.
“I started collecting maybe a 100 to 200 toys, then they went up to 400-500 and the last three years, we’ve exceeded a thousand toys,” he said.
He learned early on that if he asked for used toys, he’d get better ones.
“The kids use it for a year or two, then they don’t use them anymore and they’re in good condition, so I ask for them,” Pecunia said.
So far this year, he’s received two bicycles, a rolling dog cart for toddlers and other big toys. He shows them proudly as he hums Christmas music.
Once he gets toys he divides them in boxes between new and used. We counted 8 boxes just in his backyard. He then takes care of the used toys, “we clean them and we sanitize them”.
He changes the batteries, fixes them up and makes sure they are safe to use. You could say Pecunia’s inner child shines through as he plays with one of the toy guitars.
"I have a lot of fun playing with these things,” he laughed.
This year, his goal is to provide toys to Puerto Rican children displaced by Hurricane Maria, but he’s worried all the toys stacked up in his home won’t be enough.
"There's so many. I don't think the amount of toys I have here and in my garage will be sufficient to give to all the children that are coming from Puerto Rico.”
While he wiped off a pink little pony to give out, the founder of a local non-profit showed up to his house with a long list of children.
"We have around 270 families that we will serve this holiday, and that’s just the beginning,” said Gloria Puerto, founder of Feed & Fortify.
Pecunia works with several organizations every year to distribute the gifts. Puerto picked over 150 toys to give out during an event for Puerto Rican students in Orange County.
All of a sudden, you could start seeing Pecunia’s backyard furniture again, which means he needs more toys.
“I’m asking for people to look for toys their kids don’t use anymore. I need batteries, wrapping paper and more and more toys,” he said
Because not only does he fix toys in his makeshift workshop, he also wraps them up with shiny wrapping paper and bows. It’s become a tradition where family and friends also get involved.
"It's payback and a little effort. It's worth it, you really feel good when you do these things,” he explained.
Pecunia will be accepting toys until Dec. 15. If you’d like to help he says you can give him a call at 1-321-299-2390.