WOODLAND PARK, NJ - Eight-year-old Jayden Perez has completed a mission helping those affected by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico by personally delivering over 1,100 toys to children there.
After their initial flight had been canceled due to snow, Jayden, his mother Ana Rosado and father Javier Perez traveled to Puerto Rico from Jan. 18-22. Fifty-eight boxes, with 100 and 150 toys in each, were sent to Puerto Rico via friends, the family's church and with assistance from Delta Airlines.
"He had such an amazing unforgettable experience," said his mom. "He was so happy to hand out the toys to all the children and bring them smiles to their faces."
The family rented a truck and visited locations on the island that had been hit the hardest such as Camuy, Manati, Arecibo, and Naranhito.
Rosado said that Jayden interacted with all the children that he met there - giving them toys and goodie bags filled with candy and other treats. Rosado and Perez also handed out supplies for adults like toothbrushes, soaps and hair brushes.
Last fall, after Jayden had received tickets to a NY Giants game this fall that were gift from his mother's boss he decided he wanted to pay it forward. He organized a toy drive in early December at his home to benefit victims of Hurricane Maria. He also also raised $10,000 through a GoFundMe site for the people of Puerto Rico.
Jayden wanted to donate his Christmas toys to kids in Puerto Rico, the country his family is from. He said he wanted children to experience the same joy and happiness he felt when he heard about the Giants tickets. A video taken of his reaction had went viral on social media and was shown on several area news broadcasts.
"We are so proud in Woodland Park of Jayden Perez," Mayor Keith Kamzark posted on Facebook. "Jayden distributed over 1,100 gifts to the children and made many smile. Congrats Jayden - great job my man!"
Jayden's journey was featured on ABC News, Telemundo, and Good Morning America.
"I’m sorry if I didn’t get to all the people in Puerto Rico," he said in a video to thank all those who gave. "I tried my best.”
The toy drive isn't the first time Jayden and his family helped the victims of Hurricane Maria. Back in October, the family collected food and supplies for those affected by the storm.
Jayden plans to continue collections donations and sending them to help those in need. He and his family plan another collection in April for a friend who will be flying there.