Share joy of the season with others: Hollygrove, Big Sunday, local groups abound

Beverly Press

December 1, 2016

Share joy of the season with others: Hollygrove, Big Sunday, local groups abound

by Rachel Olivier / Suzan Filipek

Photo: SING-ALONG volunteer musicians included Clyde Kaplan, Michael Skloff, Hancock Park, on accordion, and Mark Drop at last year’s event. This year’s gathering is Sun., Dec. 11.

As the two gentlemen appealing to Mr. Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol” pointed out, this is the time of year “when want is keenly felt and abundance rejoices.” If you feel the holiday spirit move you to give from your own abundance, here are several volunteer and donation programs.

Hollygrove, 815 N. El Centro Ave., founded in 1880, helps 1,200 children and their families annually. Lisa Hutchins of Coldwell Banker Larchmont is a board member. Others in our community involved at Hollygrove include Sheri Weller, chair of the volunteer auxiliary, the “Hollies,” and Jeet Sohal and Eric Andersen, Windsor Square.

Now a division of Uplift Family Services, Hollygrove programs include mental health wellness, a camp and a parent institute. There is also an annual toy drive that collects unwrapped gifts, gift cards, wrapping paper, tissue, ribbon and tags. Parents visit Hollygrove’s “Santa’s Workshop” to select and wrap gifts for their children.

If you would like to help, donate gift cards from places such as Ralph’s, Von’s and Target. Gift certificates from places such as BestBuy, the Gap, Ross, Kohls and other places are also encouraged, as well as unwrapped gifts appropriate for ages infant to 15. The deadline for Christmas donations is Fri., Dec. 9. See the website for a wishlist of practical items accepted year round.

Call Kathleen Felesina, director of fund development, 323-769-7142 or visit, or email

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Celebrate the season at the seventh annual Big Sunday Holiday Party and Sing-along Sun., Dec. 11 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the local charity’s office, 6111 Melrose Ave.

A live band will perform holiday favorites and refreshments will be served. Bring toys, food for hungry families and winter coats. Special guests in years past have included low-income seniors, women and children from a domestic violence shelter, vets and others who could use a little TLC at the holidays, said Big Sunday executive director David Levinson, Hancock Park.

A sing-along with seniors for Hanukkah is Wed., Dec. 28 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. This mix and mingle is for people of all faiths, or none, who would like to join Big Sunday in hosting the event in Beverly Hills on the fifth night of Hanukkah.

Each holiday season, Big Sunday’s Holiday List includes more than 250 ways to help out.

Whoever you are, whatever you do, there is somebody who could use your help this holiday season! For more information on both events visit

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St. Brendan Church, 310 S. Van Ness Ave., has two main ways of giving back. Students in grades kindergarten through fourth grade are having a toy drive benefitting families at Alexandria House and St. Anne’s. Toys should be new, unwrapped and appropriate for ages infant to 15. Gift cards are also welcome. The deadline for donating toys is Sat., Dec. 10.

Students in grades five to eight are partnering with The Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels Adopt-a-Family Program, which adopts thousands of families in the Skid Row area of downtown Los Angeles and brings Christmas to them. Call 323-936-4656.

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Assistance League of Los Angeles’s Anne Banning Auxiliary, which runs Operation School Bell, 826 Cole Ave., is having a toy drive for children ages infant to 18 years old. They need small unwrapped gifts such as board games, balls, jump ropes and the like that are portable. Toys can be dropped off Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Mon., Jan. 2, 2017.

They also need donations and volunteers year round. One of their larger drives is at the end of October and provides backpacks, uniforms and school supplies for 250 homeless students from 35 elementary and middle schools.

For information on volunteering or the toy drive, contact Ikea McGowan at or call 323-469-1973.

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St. Vincent Meals on Wheels, 2303 Miramar St., has been delivering hot meals to anyone in need in their delivery area for more than 35 years. They need donations year-round, as well as people to volunteer time to deliver meals and visit with people, usually seniors. Call a week in advance to set up a time to volunteer, but call soon to work on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or New Year’s Day. They need meal drivers, meal delivery runners, office helpers and kitchen helpers. Call 213-484-7476 or visit

VOLUNTEERS work in the kitchen to help provide nutritious meals at Project Angel Food.

Project Angel Food, 922 Vine St., is upping their holiday “game” this year. Order Chef Daniel’s apple crumble or Chef John’s pumpkin pie, or the Christmas fruitcake, to provide five nutritious meals to people battling critical illness.

If you order five pies, the delivery is free. If you don’t need the pie yourself, consider donating it back to Project Angel Food for one of their clients.

New this year is Chef Juan’s diabetic apple pie. Of the more than 2,100 clients they serve, at least 300 are diabetic. The gift of a diabetic-friendly apple pie could increase holiday cheer.

They also need relief drivers to deliver meals Fri., Dec. 23, Mon., Dec. 26 and Fri., Dec. 30 from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Drivers in January, when volunteers typically drop off, are also greatly valued.

Project Angel Food also has a gift drive for the 100 children of clients they serve,  ages infant to 18 years old. Donations of unwrapped gifts or gift cards are gladly accepted.

Call 323-845-1800 or email Richard Ayoub at

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Good Shepherd Center for Homeless Women and Children, 1650 Rockwood St., has an Adopt-a-Family / Resident program to help provide clothing, toys and other thoughtful gifts for Christmas.

There are also general Christmas wishlists for adults, children and teens and for those moving into apartments this season. Items include everything from socks and towel sets to craft supplies, umbrellas and coffeemakers. Gift cards from places like Target, Ralph’s, Von’s, Barnes and Noble, and The Gap are great if you don’t know what to give.

Donate unwrapped gifts by Thurs., Dec. 15.

Call Annemarie Howse at 213-482-1834 or email

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Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA), 2701 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 100, is having their annual toy drive. They would like help celebrating the holidays with their students and families Wed., Dec. 14. Donations of unwrapped toys, games, books and gift cards for children ages six to 19 can be dropped off at HOLA or go to and purchase a gift from HOLA’s wishlist to be sent directly to them. If you’re still not sure what to do, write a check and put “Toy Drive” in the memo line. Deadline for the toy drive is Sat., Dec. 10.

Email Anna Martin, or call 213-389-1148, ext. 245.

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Volunteers are needed to distribute 75,000 clothing items and children’s books to more than 3,000 in-need individuals at the National Council of Jewish Women’s annual clothing giveaway, 543 N. Fairfax Ave. Help is also needed the day before to sort clothes.

Sign up soon for shifts on Sat., Dec. 3, 8 a.m. to noon and Sun., Dec. 4, 6:45 to 10 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.

They accept donations of clothing at the Fairfax store, 360 N. Fairfax Ave., between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily.

Call 323-852-8515 or email

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Downtown Women’s Center’s goal is to provide a safe and healthy community for homeless women, while helping them with housing and reclaiming their own personal stability. DWC needs volunteers year round to help, but they also have several social enterprises that people can support.

The Cafe & Gift Boutique, 442 S. San Pedro St., has food and used items for sale, as well as gift items from Made by DWC. Women going through the training program work at the café and in the gift shop, while relearning how to interact in the work place, run a register and develop interview skills.

The Resale Boutique, 325 S. Los Angeles St., also has gift items from Made by DWC that have been upcycled from donated materials and remade into journals, soy candles, ornaments and totes. Women in the center going through enrichment training who have created the items earn a portion of the proceeds from the products they sell.

DWC also has volunteer opportunities for individuals and groups to help with sorting donated goods and to work in the kitchen. Call 213-680-0600 or visit

For more on Made by DWC, go to

SANTA SENIOR LEAD Officer Danny Chavez and Elf Sergeant Gordon Helper at Operation Shoes from Santa last year.

Olympic Police Division’s Operation Shoes from Santa is asking for shoe donations for needy children. With help from local movie and TV studios, Olympic Division, 1130 S. Vermont Ave., will be turned into a winter wonderland with a visit from Santa. The event takes place Thurs., Dec. 15. The deadline to donate shoes is Mon., Dec. 5. The booster association club of Olympic Division also accepts donations through PayPal.

Call Eric Mollinedo at 213-793-0785 or email

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Alexandria House, 426 S. Alexandria Ave., is having a Christmas party for their families, with a visit from Santa Claus, and would love unwrapped gifts of toys appropriate for toddlers to 18-year-olds. Gift cards from $5 and up are also gratefully accepted.

Deadline to donate for the holiday party is Mon., Dec. 12. Contact Michele Richards at 213-381-2649 or email

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St. Anne’s, 155 N. Occidental Ave., is having a party for residents and their families Mon., Dec. 14. They need new, unwrapped toys for infants to 8-year-olds. Or donate books, games, gift cards and school supplies for girls ages 8 to 14. The deadline for donations is Mon., Dec. 7.

Year round, the center accepts donations of gently used baby supplies. Or consider donating to or shopping at St. Anne’s Thrift & Gift Shop, 3315 W. Burbank Blvd.

Call 213-381-2931 or go to

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Koreatown Youth and Community Center, 3727 W. 6th St., Ste. 300, needs donors and volunteers for its Holiday Carnival Sat., Dec. 17, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Leo Politi Elementary, 2481 W 11th St.

Kids from infants to 10 years old will get a free gift. There are free games and even photos with Santa.

KYCC also needs volunteers throughout the year to help with neighborhood projects.

Call 213-365-7400 or go to

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The Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels Adopt-a-Family Program, 555 W Temple St., needs help with sorting, wrapping, and delivering to the families they serve. Saturdays Dec. 3 and 10, 9 a.m. to noon they need volunteers to sort donations, wrap gifts and package food. They also need volunteers Mon., Dec. 12 to Fri., Dec. 16, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Call 213-637-7501 or email

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Do your Christmas shopping and know your money is going to a good cause by shopping at Elizabeth Vruwink Gift Shop at Good Samaritan Hospital, 616 S. Witmer St., hosted by the auxiliary.

Jewelry, home décor, handbags, clothing, toys and See’s Candy are all available.

Call 213-977-2358 or visit for information.

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While the “want is keenly felt” at Christmas, the need these organizations have is year round. If December is too busy for you, consider volunteering throughout the year.

Now, as the gentlemen asked Mr. Scrooge, “What shall I put you down for?”

The Big Sunday portion of this article was written by Suzan Filipek and appears on p. 14 of the December 2016 Larchmont Chronicle.

(Copyright © 2016 Beverly Press)

[Thanksgiving Stuffing Event] “Our Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without you guys. It warms my heart and replenishes my faith to witness such kindness in action.”

- -A.Z., Los Angeles