“Where’s Santa! I just can’t wait to see him!” squealed the small, wide-eyed homeless boy as the large doors burst open. An older, bearded gent in a red suit leaned forward and said soothingly “here I am, child.” The party then began as 120 local orphans, homeless and foster care children, ages 6 -17, were treated to a special day they will never forget – the Second Annual Safety Harbor Kids Spirit of Goodwill Holiday Party.
The gala affair, held in Pepperdine University’s Fireside Room, was hosted by local nonprofit Safety Harbor Kids (SHK) with the help of more than 80 volunteers, including the Rotoracts of Conejo Valley and several donors all doing their part to help disadvantaged children within 50 miles of Malibu. “These children really have it rough. We bring them to a beautiful place and show them a way through music, art, college and career,” said President Petrie Alexandra Williams, a graduate of Samohi and a recipient of the Santa Monica Rotary Club award. “It’s really working – I can see their personalities begin to come out at each event as they are learning.”
Local residents and businesses had a large share in the success of the event. Santa Monica sponsors include White & Company Insurance, philanthropist M. Gibson, and bandleader Bryan Senator as well as numerous other SHK members. Other supporters include musical legends Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne, who is himself a member of the organization. “I really love what you are doing helping kids, I think it is great the way you are doing it, the way it should be be done with a one on one personal touch,” said Browne in a letter to SKH.
The children were greeted with fresh juice provided by Evolution and were treated to snacks, homemade cookies, and beverages from Izzy’s as they participated in the multitude of activities made available through SHK Personal Enrichment Programs. The children were offered a professional photography class provided by Michelle Hood and Sammy’s Cameras, and were then able to build and decorate a custom wooden picture frame for their own portraits. Soon thereafter, the guest of honor arrived: yes, none other than Santa Claus himself, with his elves passing out stockings full of goodies, accompanied by holiday favorites performed by the Safety Harbor Kids Travelin’ Band.
After the performance, the children were given music lessons on various instruments including violin, guitar (by child rock star Jackson Cook), and drums as part of SHK’s Music Program. A holiday dinner with all the trimmings provided by event sponsor “Bucky” Hazan and other community member donations, and ice cream sundaes provided by The Beachcomber restaurant followed. The children were then treated to more music: a special performance by the Malibu Chamber Players of “Appalachian Duets,” and the Malibu Coast Children’s Choir doing selections from “The Sound of Music.”
Soon, the moment the children had been waiting for arrived: presents for all provided by Jakks Pacific, Hay House books, philanthropist M. Gibson, and Randy Scheinbein and Dee Dee Levey of Friends for Life. As names were read off the presents under the trees, the children, some homeless, some without parents, sat up in their chairs and their faces turned hopeful as they listened for the sweetest sound in their lives – the sound of their name at Christmas. None were disappointed.
For more information or to sponsor a child please call 310.455.0354 or visit safetyharborkids.org