Growing up in San Pedro, the Christmas holiday was one of anticipation and wonderment for my siblings and me. We repeatedly pored over the Sears catalog and its extensive toy and sports equipment sections, hoping that at least a couple of the items on the list we left for Santa Claus would miraculously arrive on Christmas morning. While never without, some years were more robust, and for some, well, underwear was the main attraction. But one thing for sure is that we were never in want — even during those thin years.
As we grow up, “giving” becomes the priority for the holiday season over receiving. This giving priority may be for loved ones, work-related relationships, and/or for those who need us most — children whose “thin years” are the norm. In my 27 years at the helm of the Boys & Girls Club, I have been truly amazed at the overwhelming generosity of so many individuals and businesses during the holiday season. It started in my first year with a phone call from my friends Tommy and Bobby, picking me up in a station wagon and filling it with sports equipment for our San Pedro Club members. Since then, the giving by so many different donors has benefitted both the numerous holiday events we sponsor and some gifts to support our expanded sites and efforts throughout the year. Regardless of the size or designation, these gifts of love and sharing are truly appreciated and make such a huge difference for thousands of youth and families. The following are just some examples of people stepping up and giving during the upcoming holiday season.
Daily Breeze Ball Drive. Now in its 22nd year, the Daily Breeze has been sponsoring an annual Ball Drive to support our growing membership and footprint. When initiated, we had only two club sites. Today, we have 19 and will open our 20th next spring. While these donated balls originally supported only our in-house holiday events for our members, the focus has changed to have an even bigger impact. Today, these balls are distributed at three community events we began sponsoring last year in response to the pandemic and the growing need of families during this ongoing crisis. Partners besides the Daily Breeze are Big 5, First Bank, Cal Pro Sports, LAUSD, and UNIFY Financial Credit Union. Please go to our website at bgclaharbor.org to learn how you can participate.
Holiday Community Events. As noted previously, last year, our Boys & Girls Club organization decided to sponsor three community events to support Los Angeles Harbor area youth besides our own membership of approximately 10,000. This year, we are sponsoring our San Pedro event at our Port Club on December 18, our Wilmington Club event on December 20, and our Harbor City event on December 22. Besides ball drive donations, we will be distributing over 1,500 pairs of shoes provided by fellow San Pedro Today columnist Jennifer Marquez and over 3,000 new books from our Bookstore on Wheels program. Open to any youth, ages 5–18.
Holiday Food Distribution. Last year, we started our Friday Weekend Wellness program (1.2 million meals distributed) to support food-insecure families living in our Los Angeles Harbor communities (San Pedro, Wilmington, Harbor City, and Lomita). We are continuing Weekend Wellness this year, but on Tuesday, December 21, we will also be distributing expanded holiday food packages to over 1,100 families throughout the Harbor area. Besides our own budgetary investment, this event will bring some much-needed holiday cheer to thousands of youth and their families with support from the Palos Verdes Chapter of the National Charity League, LA Food Bank, Phillips 66, Food Finders, Freedom4U, 99 Cents Only Stores, No Kid Hungry, and through monetary donations from individuals and businesses. The cost and availability of turkeys and hams are much more limiting this year than ever. Regardless, these families will receive enough food for a true celebration to last them through the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
Donate to a Nonprofit. Besides the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Los Angeles Harbor, there are several San Pedro nonprofits that charge no fees to support a large number of “those who need us most” and can truly use your generosity this holiday season. These include (but are not limited to): Rainbow Services, Harbor Interfaith, Toberman House, Assistance League, Beacon House, and Salvation Army, just to name a few. We all rely heavily on year-end giving by a growing number of generous donors to meet the expanded needs of so many youth and families, not only during the holidays but year round. Thank you in advance for your consideration — you can help bring hope and cheer to so many this holiday season.
Wishing you and all yours a fantastic Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa season and a most happy and healthy 2022! spt