At the 2014 Volunteer Luncheon, hosted at FHMTC on February 21, 2015, the LAFD Sertoma Club honored retired Deputy Chief Rey T. Rojo as the 2014 Sertoman of the Year. Rey has been a member of the LAFD Sertoma Club since 1980 and a member of the Torrance Sertoma Club since 1966. He continues to be actively involved in fundraising efforts, club activities and meetings for both clubs. His excellent community service extends to recruiting, volunteerism, sports, education and the military.
Today, Rey serves as the President of the LAFD Sertoma Club, and has held club positions of Board Chair, President, Vice President, Treasurer and Sergeant-at-Arms. He has also served two terms as the LAFD Sertoma Club District Governor, and has volunteered for the LAFD Affirmation Action Committee for 15 years. During his 48 years with the Sertoma Club, Rey has been able to organize many volunteer events including, sponsorships for walk-a-thons, fire station openings, luncheons, LAFD Leadership Academy graduation ceremonies, scholarships, and the LAFD Sertoma Club’s Toys for Needy Children program. Today, under his leadership, the LAFD Sertoma Club has assisted the Toberman’s Neighborhood Center in gang intervention for the past two years.
Rey created the LAFD Sertoma Club’s Toys for Needy Children Program with the LAFD in 1976 and has since become a vital part in the program’s success throughout the years. His donation of 252 toys to Harbor General Hospital’s children’s ward was the starting point that launched a program that has grown significantly in the last 38 years. From a charitable donation, Rey has seen his program grow from 252 toys in its first year to over 110,000 toys last December, and an estimated 3.5 million toys that have been donated over the years. Rey continues to coordinate the Toys for Needy Children Program, the ABC Spark of Love and the Marines Los Angeles Toys for Tots program. The LAFD Sertoma Club’s Toys for Needy Children program has expanded beyond the City of Los Angeles and into the fire departments of four surrounding counties. Without Rey’s vision and dedication to the City of L.A., the Toys for Needy Children Program would not function.
The volunteer luncheon also recognized the many volunteers who work the entire holiday season to successfully execute the program. During the 2014 holiday season, approximately 120,000 toys were collected and distributed to children in need. During the event, Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas thanked all of the sponsors, volunteers and members of the LAFD who made the program possible. In a memo written by Battalion Chief Jaime Moore he said, “I especially want to thank Firefighters Mike Marquez and Ray Topete for their continued dedication, leadership and exhaustive efforts. Both of these members along with several cadets and civilian volunteers spent countless hours away from their families from November to January to ensure that they toys reached the hands of needy children in the Los Angeles Community. A program that would not be possible without Chief Rojo, who started from the trunk of his very own car.”
Among those recognized were LAFD Cadets, an exemplary group of young people who dedicated more than 300 hours volunteering for the Toys for Needy Children Program. The young Cadets along with civilian volunteers were honored for their commitment and support to the toy’s program and LAFD. Fire Chief Terrazas presented all the volunteers with Special Recognition certificates for all of their hard work. Among those honored were: Cadets Jashon Bradley, Ian Dominguez, Brian Flores, Steven Galvez, Edgar Garcia, Brian James, Joe Montoya, Jorge Ruiz, Eddie Tiburcio, Jesse Soto and Alfred Taylor Jr. Other volunteers that also worked behind the scenes at the Toy Program were recognized and awarded at the volunteer luncheon, for their countless volunteer hours over the last 10 years, they included: Amanda Boxley, Nani Paxton, Jeffery Paxton, Elizabeth Schnell, Father Chris VanLiefde, Lauren Ventura and Judy Wong.
Fire Chief Terrazas presented Chief Rojo with the LAFD Sertoma Club Award for Sertoman of the Year. Upon acceptance of his award Rey said that he started the program to “give toys to the poor people of Los Angeles. I am very proud to be a part of this. I couldn’t imagine how big this program was going to get. Thank you for what you do, and thank you for your support.”
By Marjorie Santos, CLO intern