When Sgt. Dan Mastro heard reports that some McDonald's patrons were throwing away Happy Meals in order to collect the Teenie Beanie Babies that came inside, he and his fellow officers at the LAPD's West Valley station responded by coming up with an idea to help those who couldn't afford to throw away food.
"We decided to initiate a food campaign drive for nonperishable food items, basically canned goods, which we will donate to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank," said Mastro, who coordinated a weeklong food drive. The collection took place from June 15 through Sunday in the rear parking lot of the Reseda police station.
About 30,000 pounds of canned and nonperishable food items as well as hygiene and paper products were collected and loaded onto a 48-foot semi-trailer, donated by Bekins Moving and Storage of Chatsworth.
In addition, Mastro received $3,000 in donations, including $2,000 from John McMillion, owner of Majestic Mortgage Co. in Tarzana, and 130 cases of food from the 99 Cents Only Stores Corp., based in the city of Commerce.
During the seven-day event, donations came from all over Southern California, including as far south as Orange County, Mastro said. He added that residents who live near the station made multiple trips to the semi-trailer to donate additional food items.
"This proved to be a joint effort from the community," Mastro said. "I'm just thankful for everybody's participation that made this a great success."
On Monday, the collected items were delivered to the food bank, via a police escort.
Doris Bloch, executive director of the food bank, said the items will be distributed to 750 charities in Los Angeles, including food pantries, churches and homeless shelters.
"He's a hero to us," Bloch said of Mastro. "I am absolutely thrilled that he has mobilized the community to organize a food drive and I'm really impressed and grateful for what he has done."