Vittorio Ristorante Sponsors Holiday Toy Drive

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Vanessa Pellegrini stands in front of presents that were given to foster children in 2018 for the Vittorio Toy Drive. Please consider donating a gift this year.

This will be the 11th year that Vittorio Ristorante and Pizzeria on Marquez Avenue will host a Holiday Toy Drive. All residents are encouraged to participate.

Teaming up with Happy Trails, a local nonprofit, and the Sons of the American Legion, the organizers are seeking toys, donations and gift cards.

“We will have a Drive By Holiday Toy and Luncheon for these kids!” the organizers wrote. “The show will go on and we are asking you to please donate.”

Toys may be delivered directly to Vittorio’s via Amazon, Walmart, FedEx and UPS.

Or call the restaurant (310) 459-9316 and someone will be sent to your home/porch to pick up an item. (Editor’s note: This is a great opportunity to order from the menu and have it delivered, when the Vittorio person picks up toys/clothes. Visit: 

Curbside drop-off is also available—just pull up, call, pop the trunk and someone will come out and pick up your donated goods.


1). Shoes: Nike, Jordan, Adidas; sportswear and clothes

2) Art Supplies

3) Gift Cards to Apple, Target and Amazon

4) Mini MP-3 Players, iPods, Bluetooth Speakers and earbuds

Boys and girls requested skateboards.


1)    Sports equipment (basketball, footballs, soccer balls, baseballs and gloves/mitts)

2)    Skateboards

3)    Legos

4)    Remote-Control Cars

5)    Disney, Pixar, Toy Story, Star Wars action figures


L.O.L. Dolls was one of the most requested items for young girls.


1)    Inexpensive jewelry, bracelets, earrings and the like

2)    American Girl dolls, L.O.L. dolls, Our Generation dolls

3)    Disney Toys, Pixar, Toy Story, Paw Patrol


This annual benefit event began after Vanessa Pellegrini (daughter of Vittorio’s owner Mercedes)  was diagnosed with CNS (central nervous system) lupus in December 2010 and hospitalized for two weeks.

“We weren’t sure I was going to pull through, since the disease was attacking the blood vessels in my brain,” Vanessa said. “My mother, being a devout Catholic, prayed to Nossa Senhora de Aparecida in Brazil. She performs miracles, according to local legend, and so my mother prayed.”

(Vanessa’s mother, Mercedes, was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and met her husband Ron while he was visiting Rio de Janeiro for Carnivale. The couple married, and Mercedes came to the United States, where she started Mercedes’ Continental Delights, a bakery in the San Fernando Valley. In 1984, she opened Vittorio’s with a partner, but when Giovanni Mazzola left to open a new restaurant in Malibu, Mercedes Pellegrini kept Vittorio’s.)

Mercedes’ prayers were answered and after a few weeks of intensive care in the hospital, Vanessa was sent home, well on the way to recovery.

“As an offering, we both promised to give back to the less fortunate children, who are innocent and oftentimes are the victims of circumstance,” Vanessa said. “I had worked with School on Wheels since 1999 and I was intimately involved with kids who were living in abused homes, homeless shelters and transitory houses. These were the children that were forgotten, and so, the Holiday Luncheon was born.”

Happy Trails for Kids was started by Pacific Palisades resident Pepper Edmiston in 1982. Her son, David Abrams, was stricken with childhood leukemia when he was two years old. He survived cancer, but his treatments left him disabled and epileptic. The family couldn’t find a sleepaway camp for him, so they started one.

For the next 13 years, Happy Trails hosted families who were raising seriously ill or incapacitated boys and girls. David’s sibling, Susan, came to camp and when she was older, she became an attorney who represented children in foster care. In 2009, she took over as president of Happy Trails, and focused on the mission of kids in foster care—whether they had disabilities or not.

Annually in California, about 4,000 kids age out of the foster care system without adequate support or skills. Happy Trails hopes to help the older youth, too, with college explorations, workshops and fun activities such as this holiday celebration.

Visit: or or call (310) 459-3755.

(Editor’s note:  A reader write that Happy Trails recently created a Wish List on Amazon that people can use as a gift guide, or for ordering the item from Amazon and asked if I could include it. Just a reminder that local stores, such as Palisades Playthings (310) 454-8648 and Paliskates (424) 252-9993 need our business, too, and most likely would be happy to deliver. )

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