Morning Octane Revs Up Cars, Toys for Tots

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Photo by Shel Segal | OUTLOOK
Photo by Shel Segal | OUTLOOK
Pasadena-based Rusnak Auto Group and Toys for Tots sponsored a holiday toy drive as part of a regular Morning Octane event.

Nothing says a toy drive like a car show.
In an effort to help kids all around the San Gabriel Valley who are less fortunate, Rusnak Auto Group combined its Morning Octane on Saturday with a Toys for Tots event in the parking lot of Santa Anita Park with the hopes of gathering gifts for area children.
Although the Morning Octane event is a monthly chance for car lovers and enthusiasts to get together and show off their motored prized possessions, it was also an opportunity to give back to youngsters who might not otherwise get a gift during the holiday season, said Quincy Armstrong, director of marketing for Rusnak.
Although the cars grabbed everyone’s eyes, the main focus was to get Christmas goodies for the children.
“We want to collect a ton of toys,” he said. “We encouraged everyone to bring toys.”
Armstrong added his company promotes the event, especially on the Internet because that is where most people are paying attention nowadays.
“Social media is what gets people out to this event,” he said. “Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, all of the above.”
And what types of toys were they looking for? Armstrong said while just about any type of toy was welcome, he certainly has his favorites.
“Any unwrapped toy definitely over $10,” he said. “I like to see car-related toys. When I was young I was around a lot of Hot Wheels, so hopefully people bring that stuff.”
Armstrong also said he is optimistic Rusnak can bring in as many toys as possible since the Morning Octane is usually well attended.
“At one of these events anywhere from 750 to 1,000 people show up, so if half the people brought one, we’d have a lot of toys,” he said.
In addition, Armstrong said it is a natural fit for Rusnak to be helping an organization like Toys for Tots.
“It’s that time of year,” he said. “It’s a charity everybody can rally around. It’s one that makes sense for us. So many of the classic toys are car related.”
Victoria Rusnak, president and CEO of Rusnak Auto Group, agreed with Armstrong, saying toys and cars just go together.
“People in Southern California have the greatest cars in the world, and our clients and their friends are some of the most generous people you’ll meet,” she said. “So it makes sense. Seeing that we collected over four cargo vans full of toys, it was tremendously successful and we’re definitely going to do it again next year.”
Shaquille Webb, a supply administration clerk with the U.S. Marines in Pasadena, said the collected toys will be given away locally here in the San Gabriel Valley.
“We plan on collecting about 500 toys,” said Webb, who noted that Toys for Tots was founded by the U.S. Marine Corps in Los Angeles in 1947. “We collect them and then hand them off to the Salvation Army. From there they distribute them to the families.”
One car enthusiast who was on hand to help donate toys was David Lee, owner of Hing Wa Lee Jewelers in San Gabriel. He said he liked the way the two events were merged together by Rusnak.
“They really kind of embraced the car community,” he said. “A lot of my friends are collecting toys for Toys for Tots. You can never give enough. I am very supportive of that.”
Lee also has been promoting events in the past few weeks in order to get more car lovers out with the idea of donating toys.
“I’ve been pushing (on social media) to come out to the event,” said Lee, who owns nearly 30 high-end cars, with five of them being Ferraris. “With the added encouragement … a lot of people are bringing out toys and supporting Toys for Tots.”
One of the event’s attendees was Brian George, who came all the way out to Arcadia from Riverside. George said he brought toys for a boy, girl and baby, adding he did it because it was for a good cause.
“I was coming out to see the Morning Octane and came out to support some kids in need,” George said. “There are a lot of people out there who are a lot less fortunate than us. I just wanted to help out in any way I can and get to as many of these toy events as I can to help.”

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