By Justin Swanson | LB INDY
Families of 25 disadvantaged pre-school children gathered at the Boys and Girls Club last Friday, Dec. 21, to participate in the joy of opening presents presented by the Laguna Beach Police Department .
A part of the 15-year tradition shared by the club and police department, the children sang carols in Spanish and English followed by sharing handmade, red and green Christmas cards with the police officers.
“This is an opportunity for us to give back and share something special,” said Nikie Hernandez, a community service officer for the police department.
At the same time, Laguna’s Rotary Club gave the same 25 families each a box filled with the fixing for Christmas dinner and breakfast: ham, piecrusts, pancake mix, syrup, and butter. The club has been donating food for more than five years now.
“We try to put smiles on faces,” explains Rotarian Jerry Immel, a local resident.
This was another installment of seasonal philanthropy involving the Boys and Girls Club. Already a women’s support group purchased gifts for siblings of the same 25 families in a similar fashion as the police department, while Hobie’s customers fulfilled the wish lists of 30 club members, and the Laguna Beach Parent’s Club also gave gifts for entire families in need.
“The Boys and Girls Club is a focal point for giving,” says Terry Anne Barman, director of early childhood and family services. “It strengthens the community’s core. Divisions are broken down between police and parents and kids.”
One parent, Guille Contreras, an Aliso Viejo resident, averred her thankfulness saying, “It’s very special they create the Christmas spirit.”
“It’s important for children,” continued Barman. “They feel the hype building around Christmas and it’s hard for them when it doesn’t come as expected. We try to make it magical for them.”