“People look twice when five giant dudes wearing punk t-shirts show up in a van full of toys,” says Nathan Rebolledo.

For the past three years, SOS Booking, which Rebolledo runs with his friend Scott Fahey, has organized For The Children, a two day hardcore and punk benefit show for families in need of help during the holidays.

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The price of admission to the show is a new, unwrapped toy (or a $15 donation), which will be redistributed to kids and families in time for Chrstimas. Last year, SOS Booking collected about 700 toys and $2,000 in cash for families in need. The third installment of For The Children will be held tomorrow and Saturday, December 6 and 7 at Aladdin Jr. in Pomona.

Founded by Rebolledo and Fahey about eight years ago, SOS Booking deals in everything from heavy hardcore to frenetic powerviolence. Since its inception, the DIY-rooted bookers have set up around 200 shows, mainly around Riverside and the Inland Empire.

“I used to volunteer in the Jurupa Valley Firefighters Adopt A Family program, back when I worked in the Fire Department,” Rebolledo explains. When his demanding tour schedule forced him to quit his job — Rebolledo fronts Pomona mosh-core outfit Xibalba — he sought a new way to help his community. “I thought, what better way than to set up benefit shows.”

“Last year we distributed about half the toys through Adopt A Family. The other half went through local church groups and youth centers.” The DIY hardcore scene, Rebolledo says, is all about giving back to the community. “Almost every band we approach about doing this benefit accepts the offer. This year, some of the bands are travelling a long way for the show. For them to fly out here and not ask for a penny is fucking amazing.”

ACxDX frontman Sergio Amalfitano can also attest to the hardcore scene's sense of community. The La Puente-based powerviolence quintet is one of many bands performing at For The Children this year, but Amalfitano's experience runs even deeper.

“When my daughter needed heart surgery last year, the whole hardcore community, including Xibalba and SOS Booking, really came together to help us,” he says. The proceeds helped defray much of the cost of her surgery, and today, Amalfitano's daughter is healthy. “Helping out is part of the punk ideals we all grew up with in this scene. You have to give something back. As much as you can.”

With a stellar line-up featuring acts such as Strife, Nails, Donnybrook, Nomads, Over My Dead Body, Xibalba, and ACxDC, Rebolledo is hoping for an even better haul this year. “When I was with the Fire Department I would help distribute the toys we collected,” he recounts. “I'd ask kids what they wanted for Christmas and many of them just wanted a pair of shoes or a backpack or help for a parent. That absolutely crushed me.”

“I can't help feed these kids or take care of them,” Rebolledo says. “But I can collect toys for them. Sometimes little things like that can make a difference, too.”

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