In these tough economic times, no one feels the brunt of the crisis more deeply than local-area non-profits. But the Santa Monica-based charity the Children’s Lifesaving Foundation (CLF) still held two wonderful holiday events this past month, for low-income and at-risk youth, and provided special Wish Lists to the children attending their “Care through College” Educational Program – with the help of a few very special friends.
Employees from Santa Monica-based Jackson Life Insurance Company rallied together, purchasing above and beyond what was requested on the children’s lists. “We were a little worried this year,” says CLF Founder Maria D’Angelo. “But, everyone came through! It was miraculous!”
The CLF’s programs include an educational, after-school tutoring program, a great summer camp program for inner-city and at-risk youth, and Adopt-A-Family Program, and, above all, a huge Holiday Program. Each child received a gift bag with brand new toys and presents. Great food, deejay dancing, lovely decorations, music, games, dessert, and treats all made for an incredible holiday experience!
Topson-Downs and Andrew Leigh Inc. donated boxes of lovely, brand-new clothing for the moms and young girls, and the events were sponsored by Santa Monica-based Icon Productions, as well as by Disney, California Supply, Topson-Downs, and KAYO Apparel company. “We truly could not have done the program this year without the incredible help of our friends,” stated Maria D’Angelo. “I am just overwhelmed by the great generosity of the local community. Once again, everyone came through for us, for the kids, and, as always, our Santa Monica and Malibu friends were an enormous part of this process. We were able to serve over 300 very needy children with their help, and we are just incredibly appreciative right now.”
Ms. D’Angelo stated that the only drawback this year was the fact the CLF could not move a particular family from a shelter into a new apartment during the holidays – a core platform of their Adopt-A-Family Program. “We are looking for a special angel to help a very special family,” D’Angelo went on to say. “The daughter of one of our families needs a place of her own. Her brother was killed last year, and she has really struggled to make a genuine life for herself. We want to really help her in 2009.”
Chanel, the tall, blonde young woman D’Angelo is speaking of, attending the December 13 event, even brought cash and product donations from the store where she works, and tells of when her own family was moved from Sunlight Shelter in Santa Monica, into a new apartment, so many years ago. “I could finally have friends over to my house,” she said. “…And not be…embarrassed. I could have a real birthday party. Sleep-overs. Just as a real kid would do. The CLF really saved my family’s life.”
Over 150 very low-income children filled a huge auditorium on December 13. The room practically glowed with the decorations, the smiling volunteers, wonderful crafts, two deejays, and of course, Santa, who gave each child a personalized bag, bulging with gifts. “We are so grateful to have all this abundance,” D’Angelo said. “JAKK’s Pacific and local schools donated just TONS of toys! Friends at OSEA and the Body Shop donated great products and toiletries to our young moms. Jackson Life Insurance and Agape Church bought incredibly special gifts!”
It brought tears to her eyes, she said, to be reminded of how, deep down, the link to help others is always there, in our community, no matter what. “I have renewed faith,” she says with a sweet smile. “Santa Monica truly takes care of its own.”
To donate to the CLF, or to purchase gift cards for the Adopt-A-Family Program, please call 310.450.3701, or visit childrenslifesaving.org