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Breakfast with Santa Robert Moreno | Sat, Dec 28 2013 12:00 PM

Santa brought smiles to Chula Vista on Dec. 21 as he handed out more than 350 gifts to children of all ages at the Boys and Girls Club of South County’s third annual Breakfast with Santa event.

“Santa asked if I liked Angry Birds and I said yes, so he told his little helper to give me an Angry Birds toy,” said Nicoloff Elementary School fourth grader Perla Zavala.

Zavala received an Angry Birds toy to go with the Angry Birds pajamas that she had just rolled out of bed with.

Meeting Santa and receiving a toy was the highlight of the day for many children, but other activities included arts and crafts, a cookie decoration and a tumble down an inflatable slide. Home Depot provided a wood shop activity.

Michelle Sahagun-Cosio, fundraising director, said Kohl’s department store gave the youth center about $500 to purchase toys for the Christmas event.

Rebekah Buford of San Diego works for a local Kohl’s and showed up with her family of three expecting to volunteer, but she said she was turned away because there were more than enough volunteers for the event.

“We showed up to volunteer but they didn’t need us,” she said.

So Buford was able to enjoy the day with her husband and son, Trevor, who delivered a letter to Santa and showed off his handprint craft along with his Superman action figure.

Before receiving any toys, children and their families sat and had a pancake and sausage breakfast.

Head cook Joaquin Cueva said his staff dished out 30 pounds of pancake batter and 80 pounds of sausage.

This year there was enough food for everyone, which was a different story from last year.

“Last year we ran a little short on food,” Cueva said. “We didn’t expect that many people to show up; we didn’t have any food for the employees.”

Cueva said his crew expected a larger crowd this year and made sure to calculate the right amount of food needed for the event.

This year a record 400 families and 80 volunteers participated in the event.

“We’re trying to make it a bigger and bigger event as it progresses throughout the years,” Sahagun-Casio said.

After the event, Santa said he heard from children asking for things that were outside of the realm of possibility, or what he said were intangible.

Some kids he said asked for  better living conditions.

He said while he can’t provide things that are intangible, he just wanted to encourage the children and let them know that things do get better.

Santa said he just had a simple message for everyone in attendance: “Just believe!” he said.

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