Bella Beach Kids Launches Toy Fund for Kids of Restaurant EmployeesDec 05, 2020 10:08AM ● By Jeanne Fratello
Downtown Manhattan Beach restaurant employees have had a tough year - but a local Manhattan Beach business is stepping in to act as Santa for their kids.
Bella Beach Kids has launched the "Holiday Happy Fund," which will provide toys to kids of Downtown Manhattan Beach restaurant workers. The store aims to take all of the stress out of holiday shopping, and will have gifts ready to go for the kids, already wrapped for the holidays.
"We're seeing employees being laid off, people trying to pay rent, trying to pay bills, and parents under stress," said Bella Beach Kids owner Kris D'Errico. "We needed to find a way to make this holiday happy. We all need a little more more 'happy' in our lives right now."
D'Errico has committed to donating 10 percent of all proceeds at Bella Beach kids to the Holiday Happy Fund. The fund is also taking donations in increments of as little as $5.
D'Errico began by spreading the word to the 40 restaurants in the downtown area, and taking down ages and genders of employees' kids. The restaurants have responded with awe and gratitude, she said, noting that one restaurant told her they were just "overwhelmed" by the gesture.
When she told her vendors about the project, some of them began donating toys. And as people started to hear about it in her shop, they wanted to donate money as well.
"One man gave us $50, another man gave us $100. That just brought tears to our eyes," said D'Errico.
Fund Has Personal Meaning
D'Errico and her family have deep ties to Manhattan Beach, so the fund - and the preservation of Downtown Manhattan Beach - has personal significance to her.
"My heart is with Downtown Manhattan Beach," said D'Errico. "I grew up in Manhattan Beach - I've lived here since I was ten years old. I grew up four blocks from downtown. My first job was at Cotton Cargo."
D'Errico is also focused on preserving the friendly downtown that she knows and loves.
"We need a Downtown Manhattan Beach when we come out of all of this," she said. "What would our town look like if we didn’t get involved right now?"
There's one more piece of the project that has deep personal significance: the smiley face logo.
D'Errico's mother, Barbara Mackerer, who recently passed away, was known for her bright yellow Volkswagen Beetle. Mackerer had customized the Beetle with black eyes and a mouth to make a smiley face.
The logo for the Holiday Happy Fund is a yellow smiley face with a Santa hat, in Mackerer's honor. "She would have just loved this," said D'Errico.
And when it's time to deliver the gifts - possibly in the Downtown Manhattan Beach Business and Professionals Association's holiday-themed golf cart - D'Errico knows that the moment will be one worth savoring. "I can’t wait to see their happy faces," she said.