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Kittanning taco truck hauls in presents to donate to children

| Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, 12:02 a.m.
Louis B. Ruediger
Walter Aguirre of Rayburn, the owner of L.A. Taco, is conducting a toy drive from his mobile taco stand at Market Street and North Grant Avenue in Kittanning during the Christmas season. Monday December 3, 2012 Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times

As a boy growing up poor in Los Angeles, Walter Aguirre once got a fire truck for Christmas from a charity toy drive.

“I used those programs when I was little,” he said.

“I came from a single-parent household. We worked but we didn't have a lot of money. I know how it is to be hungry. I know how it is not to have a toy.”

Later as a Marine, he participated in a few Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots Program toy drives collecting new and unwrapped toys to distribute as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children like himself in communities.

He even kept on donating toys to the program after he left the Marines.

“These kinds of programs really mean a lot to me,” Aguirre said.

Aguirre, 28, has lived in Rayburn for the past four years with his wife Amy, who is from the Kittanning area, and their three children,

He is a member of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard unit in Indiana.

He is a full-time student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, majoring in marketing, where he works for the university's Small Business Development Center.

In addition he operates his own business, L.A. Taco.

During a recent visit to a day care center to pick up one of his children, another child said her mom “couldn't (afford to) buy Santa Claus presents.”

“That touched me,” he said.

Toys for Christmas

So when Aguirre started a mobile lunch truck business, L.A Taco, three months ago, he knew he just had to collect some toys himself to donate locally this Christmas.

“We figured now that we have a business, let's see what we can do about that,” Aguirre said.

Anyone who donates a toy at his truck when he is in Kittanning on Market Street on Mondays during lunchtime, Wick City on Saturdays or Ford City on Main Street in Ford City during lunch on Fridays between now and Christmas will receive a free taco.

Aguirre said his business is a location for the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program and that he will take some of the toys collected to the drop-off center at the state police station in East Franklin.

He said he plans to split the remainder of the toys to take to ACMH Hospital for children there and to Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh.

“I want most of the toys to stay here,” he said.

“I wanted to do something for the local community.”

So far, Aguirre has collected more than 30 toys.

His goal is to get $1,000 worth of toys to donate.

“People are really happy to do this,” Aguirre added.

“And I'm glad I'm a part of it.”

Mitch Fryer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303 or mfryer@tribweb.com.

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