F. Castro / SFVS


He can play a scary guy onscreen. But Danny Trejo — famously known for “Machete” — was all smiles and hugs on Sunday, Dec. 15, as he played the role of Santa’s helper at Vallarta Supermarket in Pacoima while the grocery chain gave free toys to children.

“I love giving back and I think that’s the way the good Lord wants us to live, not just during Christmas, but all year long,” said Trejo, who consistently attends and takes part in events in the San Fernando Valley community where he lives.

“To see the happiness and joy in the kids is so beautiful.”

Trejo — who wore a hat in the shape of a Christmas tree — understands some people in the community are struggling and every little bit helps.

“Maybe [the parents] can’t afford new toys. A lot of parents are living from paycheck to paycheck in this economy. Leave it to places like Vallarta that say ‘this is the neighborhood, this is the community,’ and they have a great toy giveaway,” he said.

Trejo also took photos with all those attending the event, and that included the other shoppers who happened to see him inside the store.

“This is a ‘thank you’ and a blessing and I wish more companies did it. So much has been given to me there’s no way I could ever pay it back, but I try to do it every way I can,” he added.

Kids and parents enjoyed meeting the famous actor — many younger fans know Trejo from his character “Isador ‘Machete’ Cortez” in the “Spy Kids” films — and they were also treated to champurrado (chocolate-based atole) and conchas (Mexican sweet bread).

Toy Giveaway

The grocery chain that began as a small butcher shop in the San Fernando Valley held a toy giveaway in this area for the first time. Ivette Serrano, the director of Digital Marketing and Social Media, said the chain has held similar events at other stores for the past decade, and brought the toy giveaway to their 15 Valley locations this year.

More than 20,000 toys were passed out at 35 of the 50 stores over the weekend. There were 200 toys distributed to children 12 and under at the Pacoima location.

Serrano said Vallarta officials asked Trejo to participate because “he’s always in the community and he’s one of our longest shoppers. He is local and a favorite among the people, from kids to older folks, and he puts a smile on everybody.”

“Frozen” dolls, Spiderman cars and other toys brought smiles to the dozens of kids who had lined up waiting to choose a toy and take a photo with Santa.

Sandra Castaneda said her husband saw the announcement about the giveaway in the store’s weekly flyer. “I just saw the (food) specials,” she said, “but he saw it and I asked (her kids) if they wanted to come.”

Castaneda, who brought her three kids, Andrea, 11, Daniela, 9, and Serio, 7 said “This is very good. Sometimes one can’t provide everything that the kids want.”

Added Nancy Galiano, whose three children — Barbara, 10, Samuel, 3 and Lorenzo, 1 — also received toys, “It’s a nice gesture for the kids. It’s like a ‘thank you’ from the owners, and that’s good.”