harnessing the power of photography for good


Toys for Joy

Toys for Joy began over 15 years ago by Miles McPherson and Miles Ahead Ministries.  I first started photographing at Toys for Joy, I think in 2002.  This year’s Toys for Joy is just around the corner.

The photos here were taken back in 2003 by my friend and fellow photographer Rafael Delgado.

The event is now run under the umbrella of the Rock Church.  Miles McPherson is the pastor at the Rock.

Since 2002 I have photographed almost every Toys for Joy Christmas outreach.  Every year is different and to be honest, sometimes you wonder if the folks in line are really in need…that’s when I pray and seek to tell the story of what God is doing at this great event.   In the spirit of giving and blessing others, you have to look the other way when you see a teen in line, listening to music with his $200 beats headphones connected to  his iPhone while wearing $150 Air Jordans…One of the great things about Toys for Joy back when I first got involved, was that every man, woman and child that was in line heard the Good News of Christ coming at Christmas and His death and resurrection at Easter.  That everyone might have life in Christ.  Every person heard this message and was given a chance to pray to receive Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, before heading into the toy area.

Photographers by nature are observers…we are always looking for the “shot” that will tell the story in 1 photo…

I think Rafael got pretty close on this photo.  One of the traditions of  Toys for Joy was to award a bicycle to a young boy and girl near the end of the event…This young girl was just told she was going to be getting a new bicycle for Christmas!  The rest of the photos add to the story…

Praise God for Toys for Joy.  That kids who might not receive anything at Christmas might be blessed and know who this season is truly about….Jesus!

You can learn more about Toys for Joy by going HERE.

Toys 4 Joy 2011

Over the years I have been blessed to see quite a few Toys 4 Joy outreaches up close and personal…it’s always different and always a chance to see God work in new and special ways.  I share some of my thoughts and images from over the years at one1shot.wordpress.com 

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens :: FREE from Christian Audio

Christian Audio is offering A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens as this months free audio book.  It’s truly a Christmas classic and a great addition to your audio library.   They are also offering the ebook for free as well.  So don’t miss this great opportunity.  While your at it, go check out some of the other great audio books they have.  They are a local company based out of Escondido, so lets support local businesses.

You can go to ChristianAudio.com or click HERE to get your free goodies.  You can learn more about A Christmas Carol below.

A Christmas Carol is a novella by English author Charles Dickens first published by Chapman and Hall and first released on 19 December 1843. The story tells of sour and stingy Ebenezer Scrooge’s ideological, ethical, and emotional transformation after the supernatural visitations of Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Yet to Come. The novella met with instant success and critical acclaim.

The book was written and published at a time when Britain was experiencing a nostalgic interest in its forgotten Christmas traditions, and at the time when new customs such as the Christmas tree and greeting cards were being introduced. Dickens’ sources for the tale appear to be many and varied but are principally the humiliating experiences of his childhood, his sympathy for the poor, and the Christmas stories of Washington Irving.

The tale was pirated immediately, was adapted several times to the stage, and has been credited with restoring the holiday to one of merriment and festivity in Britain and America after a period of sobriety and somberness. A Christmas Carol remains popular, has never been out of print, and has been adapted to film, opera, and other media.

Sharing is Caring :: time to share photos from Saturday’s excursion to Balboa Park

The scene…over 325,000 San Diegan’s came to this years event at Balboa Park

Tonight, December 7th, 7pm in Rm 353….Come join us as we share photos from last weekends Christmas on the Prado (aka December Nights).  All are welcome, even if you didn’t make it down to Balboa Park last weekend.

For those sharing photos from this weekend, please bring (5) five photos you would like to share with the class…that’s because sharing is caring.

Museum of Modern Art….after the rush

Photo Class & Events: What’s happening through the end of the year…

Keep your eyes on this post as we will be adding more information to the below activities after our next meeting. We have a ton of things planned to do over the next few weeks so come out and join us for some photo fun. ALL are welcome to come out and experience our classes and events. We are going to end the year strong and take a few weeks off during Christmas and the new year before coming back in January to resume basic classes from the beginning. We are looking forward to seeing you soon!

– Wednesday 11/30/11 @ 7-9pm
Join us for photo class at the Rock room 353. We will be sharing 5 photos that we have taken over the last week during the holiday. We will also be talking about the upcoming events for the rest of year.

– Saturday 12/3/11 @ 4-10pm
Christmas On The Prado aka December Nights at Balboa Park. Get there early as parking is limited.
The event starts at Noon in case you want to wander on your own first. We will be meeting at 4pm in front of the Photographic Arts building. The museums are open to public for free from 5-9pm. You can find out more information at the links provided below.

December Nights website:

Map of events (Print before going): http://www.balboapark.org/sites/default/files/decembernights_map_2011.jpg

Event list (Print before going):

– Wednesday 12/7/11 @ 7-9pm
Let’s get together at the Rock Church room 353 and go over the photos from Christmas On The Prado.

– Wednesday 12/14/11 @ 7-9pm – CANCELLED
Class Christmas potluck & lesson on fireworks photography

– Sunday 12/18/11 @ 4:30pm Sharp
San Diego Parade Of Lights – Location TBD
Come join us for fireworks photography and the parade of boat lights on the bay.

Website: http://www.sdparadeoflights.org/

There is much to do before the end of the year and many opportunities to check us out. Again we welcome everyone no matter what the skill level to join us for any of the events or classes. More to come soon about the above events and what we have planned for next year. Keep your eyes on the Mission Focused site to find out what’s going on with the team, classes, and events.


Jim Wanglund

Let’s Focus on the True Meaning of the Season

I was listening to the radio today and caught an end of a segment talking about A Charlie Brown Christmas.  They were talking about how the folks at CBS wanted to change some things before airing it.  Among the things they wanted to change was the scene where Linus recites the passage in the Gospel of Luke concerning the birth of Christ.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2:8-14 KJV

The network execs didn’t thing America would want to hear a recitation from the King James Bible.  Despite all the problems CBS had with A Charlie Brown Christmas…at the end of the day, over 50% of TV’s in America were watching when the Christmas special aired!

A big reason the special aired the way it did was because of Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts, insistence that they not change anything, including the reading from Luke’s Gospel.

Charles  Schulz said, “If we don’t tell the true meaning of Christmas, who will?”

Our goal as photographers is to do the same through our images.  As the Christmas season has officially begun, we want to remind folks that Christ came that we all might have life…life to the fullest! (John 10:10)

Hallelujah Chorus…its all about Jesus!

and the answer is….Jesus!

toys for joy is this saturday….so i thought i would post some photos from past years.  it was fun looking back and seeing some of the faces of those who have helped out over the years.  from last years rain soaked event to cold friday nites at iglesia bautista, these photos go back to 2003.  i think i started shooting the then miles ahead toys for joy back in 2002 and have been to almost everyone since.  if you get a chance to talk with some of the “old timer” mac folks, they have tons of great stories of faith and trust when they had no toys and no money and how God “hooked it up”….and every kid left with a toy at the end of the nite.

as this years event looks to be the biggest to date…i cant help but be excited for how God is gonna work in the big events just like He did back in the day…..

Praise God!

do something san diego

the rock church held a press conference today at the jackie robinson ymca, to promote volunteerism in san diego.  pastor miles was there, along with mayor sanders and councilman tony young, who represents district 4.  it was in his district that the rock do something campaign earlier this year helped clean up around chollas lake, colina del sol, and the jacobs center.

the rock also donated the extra toys from the 13th annual toys4joy event on saturday.  do something rock church!

An experience…

Two years ago was literally my first Rock Photography experience… I felt almost – well – lost… My shots were out of focus, off in composition, it was a learning experience… It was Toys for Joy 2007. I thank God for that opportunity. I grew so much as a photographer and truthfully got to see how documenting where God is working can be so amazing… Today– as a Rock Photographer – it has been unbelievable. And now, 2009, not only has our photo ministry grown, but so has Toys for Joy – in every way possible… I had a great time and it was truly great to be a witness…

That last one says it all for me – cut away all the distractions – the massive amounts of people, the piles of toys and clothes, the rain…. heck even the color in the picture!… to a child it didn’t matter… they are just so drawn by the one gift that they get to come away with… it was the feeling that whatever their personal situation, this is the thing that mattered in this moment… that was their moment.

Toys For Joy: The reason for it all…

Amazing how everyone both guests and volunteers, braved the cold and rain to make this a successful event.  The main focus of course was to help those in need at this special time of the year.  The look of anticipation on the kids faces was more than enough reward for me but even more important was the lives that were changed  A simple gesture of the giving of ones time, some toys, clothes, food, and/or prayer are all that He asks of us.  But how often He gives us so much more back in the interactions we have with others while sharing the love He intended us to use.  We don’t ask for any anything in return for our gestures of good will but God always surprises us with what we least expect.  May God work on your heart this Christmas and as we rush around, try to remember that there are many who need our love and support.

In Him,

Jim Wanglund


These are what I will remember from Toys for Joy.  I started shooting early in the morning and faces were what my camera was drawn to. The emotion was real. I usually always shoot in color and then convert to Black and White during editing. For some reason I felt as though I needed to view this event in Black and White, so that nothing would distract me from the emotion taking place around me. Here were some of  the emotions I witnessed throughout the event.

Relief:  As a parent I know the joy of giving something to my son. Their expressions are worth anything in this world. At the event I witnessed relief in the faces of parents who would do anything to make their kids smile. The fact that they had the opportunity to do this through Toys for Joy gave them a feeling of peace during a very stressful time of year. This relief brought smiles to their faces that matched their children’s.

Compassion:  The volunteers at this event were amazing. Everyone showed up with a heart to serve, no task was underneath anyone and it showed. It was cold, wet and muddy, but you wouldn’t know that if you just saw the faces of those serving.

Humility:  Once again on the faces of those serving. As a volunteer I just wished there was more that I could do for these families.

Joy:  Nothing beats the smile of children. I loved catching their faces as they stood in line, some were excited, others were shy. however no child left the event without a smile on their face. What child doesn’t love the chance to go crazy in the rain, and for that reason I understand why God doesn’t need to hold back the rain when Toys for Joy comes to town.

At the end of the day my body definitely let me know I did something, and I couldn’t help but smile.

Toys 4 Joy 2009

do something!   toys 4 joy was crazy.  tons of folks, i havent heard officail numbers yet, but i left around 245pm, and there were still folks lined up for toys.  a long, long line!

this is the 8th toys for joy ive been part of, i think… and everyone is different, and the location has changed several times in the last few years.  but what remains constant is God’s Love and our need for a Saviour.  it was a long, wet and muddy day, and im dog tired.  woof!  praise God!

Christmas on the Prado Tonite!

trevor and i will be walking around balboa park tonite…Christmas on the Prado!

we are meeting at the museum of photographic arts at 430pm.  the museum is free to enter at 5pm, so we will wander around there for awhile then check out the sights and sounds of balboa park.

if you can join us, be at the museum at 430, hope to cya there.

***balboa park was jammed packed with folks, parking was tought to find, but if youve never been to Christmas on the Prado, you have to go at least once.