Helping out families who might otherwise go without gifts or a special meal around the holidays isn’t just an act of goodwill for Christopher Herrera, who opened a Grocery Outlet in Chatsworth on Wednesday, it’s personal.
“There was a period when I was growing up that my dad wasn’t in the picture for about 10 years,” Christopher says. “My mom was raising six kids on her own and we needed help. My mom told us this one Christmas that she was sad we wouldn’t get any gifts.”
But that holiday, Christopher says his mother’s friend showed up with a surprise Nintendo game system for him and his siblings, making it an unforgettable Christmas.
It was with this memory in mind that Christopher decided to call on fellow San Fernando Valley Grocery Outlet owners Dale and Monique Mascari for help donating to Child Care Resource Center’s Home for the Holidays event, where we gave 2,000 families a holiday meal, books and toys.
“I was really moved to hear what CCRC does and I really want to get involved and help with families,” Christopher said. “Imagining kids in the cars at your event feeling the way I did when my mom’s friend came over with that gift motivated me to get involved with CCRC.”
Christopher and the Mascari couple, who owns and operates the Grocery Outlet in Canoga Park, say community involvement is at the core of why they got into the grocery business.
“It’s really about building relationships, not just customers but neighbors,” Dale said.
Working with Christopher, the Mascari’s hosted a toy collection drive at their store and matched every donation.
“It was really nice to see the reaction,” Monique said. “We put out a box for donations and didn’t really feel like it was getting the attention and donations we wanted, so Dale and Chris got together to make announcements on the intercom and gifts started coming in. I was really proud that boxes started to fill up. It’s the magic behind the holidays.”
That magical momentum led to a total donation of 120 toys – 60 from customers matched with 60 from the grocery owners. CCRC Community Partnership Specialist Lucy Capurro joined Christopher for the Wednesday ribbon cutting after connecting with him last year about ways Grocery Outlet could support our holiday drive. Christopher gave Lucy an additional $100 Grocery Outlet gift card to further support families in our community.
“During this pandemic, there were families who lost their jobs or were temporarily out of work so there was a need for groceries and toys,” Christopher said. “I was attracted to this business because of the community aspect. It’s special to me as a business owner to know a lot of the operators in our network want to give back just like me.”