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LMU Staff Members Spread the Holiday Cheer Through Service

More than 35 Loyola Marymount University staff members and alumni spread the Christmas spirit by volunteering at St. Margaret’s Christmas Program 2010 on Dec. 18. The annual holiday gathering took place at the Hollywood Park racetrack in Inglewood, Calif.

“St. Margaret Center offers support for the neediest families in Lennox, Hawthorne and Inglewood,” said Pam Rector, director of LMU’s Center for Service and Action. “Their Christmas Program brings joy to families who would have to go without during this time of year. Seeing the joy in the faces of the families is what keeps me coming back, knowing that without this program their holidays would be very different.”

Each year, St. Margaret Center in Inglewood hosts the program for low-income families, who are treated to a day of fun activities. More than 1,100 children, from toddlers to 13-year-olds, were entertained by games, face-painting, arts and crafts, music and live performances. While the children were busy, parents selected gifts for them from a selection of toys that were donated to the center. Each child also received a goody bag filled with toys, treats and a book and every family was given a $25 gift certificate from a local grocery chain.

The Children’s Center at LMU organized a toy drive and contributed more than $1,000 worth of toys and gift certificates that had been donated by staff and parents.  Six staff members also volunteered at the event. Ani Shabazian, director of the Children’s Center, said that the program was a great way to focus on what’s really important during the holidays.

“The Christmas Program was an absolutely moving experience. It took the focus off of myself and put it on serving others,” Shabazian said. “It’s the best day of the holiday season for me, and it’s very gratifying especially when it’s easy to get crazed with everything else going on around you.”

Members of the LMU MBA Alumni Association also organized a toy drive. Alumni were given the option this year to make a donation via a wish list on Amazon.com. Mathew Pomeroy ’04, M.B.A.’10 said that the wish list made donating very easy because they knew how many families were coming and how many toys were needed. Alumni also donated gift cards to Target and iTunes for older children.

“You should give no matter what the season, but especially during the Christmas holiday when it is better to give than receive,” said Pomeroy. “This holiday event was a big group effort that allowed everyone to chip in and help out. Every little bit makes a difference.”

Volunteers are still needed in at the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank and the Downtown Women’s center on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. For more information, check out the Center for Service and Action online.

Posted Dec. 20, 2010