A local drive to collect toys for kids at Christmas continues to grow even though the man who started the annual event died before he could see its completion.
One of the last things Anthony Princiotta did before a fatal crash took his life last week was to pass along at least “five huge boxes” of toys and a check for $500 to toy drive volunteers, said Jim Lentini, who is pressing ahead with promotion of the toy drive after Princiotta’s death.
“He came over with five or six huge boxes of toys, three or four days before the accident,” Lentini said Monday.
The traffic collision that claimed the life of Princiotta happened Monday, Dec. 3, at 3:40 p.m. on Sierra Highway, near the College of the Canyons east campus exit.
Toys collected for children of veterans and the money donated to buy toys for those same kids is being handled by the Harry Bell Veteran Fund, Lentini said.
Princiotta, founder and president of the Elks Riders, Santa Clarita Lodge 2379, began the annual toy drive by holding an annual Blackjack Toy Run, which raises money to buy presents for kids at Christmas.
“They accumulated all these toys before his unfortunate accident,” Lentini said.
Santa is expected to give out the toys on Saturday.
Helping others was what Anthony Princiotta was all about, according to his widow.
“My gut tells me there’s a reason for this,” Deana Princiotta said Monday. “That’s the only thing holding me together.”
In addition to the toy drive, her husband helped raise money each spring for children suffering from brain injury.
And, when he and his wife were at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival last year, he helped those who were hurt during the mass shooting, his widow said. At least 59 people were shot and killed and 527 others wounded at the event.
“He helped resuscitate people and apply tourniquets,” she said. “He helped many people while we were there.”
Meanwhile, efforts are ongoing by Deana Princiotta and lawyers representing her family to find witnesses to the fatal crash.
“People tell me, ‘Oh I drove by that scene,’ and those are the people who should call,” she said. “I want to hear details from people before, during and after the accident.”
Richard Patterson, of the local law firm Owen, Patterson and Owen, said Monday that lawyers have one video recording of the fatal crash and one eyewitness.
“We are seeking the input of everyone who saw the accident or heard it,” Patterson said Monday.
Princiotta was on his way to join other Toy Drive volunteers at the Elks Lodge when his motorcycle and a pickup truck collided.