News / USA

Charities Spread Holiday Cheer to Poor Children, Homeless

TEXT SIZE - +
Mike O'Sullivan

The Christmas holiday season for many Americans is a time for giving and helping those who are less fortunate.

The Christmas holiday season for many Americans is a time for giving and helping those who are less fortunate.

Hundreds of children in this low-income neighborhood come to an annual holiday party at the Children's Institute, a private charity.  They meet Santa Claus and take home gifts donated by the toymaker Mattel and other companies.

Mary Collins is a retired business executive and longtime volunteer who serves on the charity's board of trustees.  She says the party is the highlight of the year for the children.

"They aren't able to have Christmas presents under their tree on Christmas morning," said Collins.  "And because of all the wonderful companies and people who volunteer, they're able to come and pick out a present and a book and participate."

Katherine Martinez, 11, comes here often for after-school programs, and her mother, Rosa, takes a class on parenting skills.  Rosa Martinez says the moms and kids are enjoying the party.

"We have fun, and they can have presents and enjoy with other friends and other people around us," said Martinez.

The party is a chance for kids to forget the many social problems they face in their neighborhood, says Nina Revoyr, the institute's executive vice president.

"Community violence, things happening in their neighborhoods, also things like child abuse and neglect, domestic violence," said Revoyr.  "Even kids that might be traumatized just because something terrible has happened in their families."

The Institute offers counseling for children traumatized by violence, or those who have lost parents.  There are also arts and enrichment programs after school.

In another part of town, known as Skid Row, homeless men live in small encampments, and community workers come by to offer food and other help.  

The homeless come to the Los Angeles Mission, a religious charity, for shelter and a meal.  There is a room of computers, where they can look for work on the Internet.

Jason Hemming was homeless once and got help at the mission.  He says it's rough on the streets at Christmas.

"You get sentimental about your family, looking back on childhood opening presents under the tree, things like that.  And it brings back a lot of memories," said Hemming.

The homeless live a world apart from those who crave expensive gifts, says mission president Herb Smith. He says they have simple wants for the holidays - a warm pair of gloves, for example.

"Or they would like to get reunited with their family, a very basic human desire, if you will," said Smith.  "Not a lot of Maseratis and Ferraris and all the special baubles that some of us think about at Christmas, but very basic human need and human desire."

Those who run these charities say the holiday season reminds people to reach out to others throughout the year.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid