Unprecedented turnout for Foothill Unity Center Holiday Distribution


Nearly 1,900 low-income families receive food boxes plus toys and gifts for 2,871 children

More low-income families than ever before flocked to Ayres Hall at the Los Angeles County Arboretum in Arcadia today to take home generous holiday food boxes and gifts for their children at the annual Foothill Unity Center, Inc, Holiday Distribution. The families, all clients of Foothill Unity Center, Inc., had preregistered to attend the event. They included 2,871 children.

melanie on santas sleigh

“We’ve known for some time that this year’s Holiday Distribution would be our most challenging ever,” said Center Executive Director Joan Whitenack. “We could see it in the number of people filling our reception area and the lines outside our two facilities on our regular distribution days.”

Each family received a holiday food box with a meat item and the makings for a traditional dinner, packed by family size. They also received an opaque bag pre-packed with a new toy and clothing for each child in the family. “We prefer to distribute children’s toys and gifts this way,” says Whitenack. “It allows parents to wrap the gifts and give them to their children as a part of their own holiday traditions.”

Many gifts were provided by caring local people who adopted paper angels, each featuring a single child’s wish list. Volunteers in the Holiday Angel Program, co-chaired by Irene Yamagata-Bermudez, Christi Anderson, Catherine May and Dottie Percy-Ward, collected and packed the toys and clothing for each family. Gifts also included toys donated by JAKKS Pacific, Inc.; new books from Monrovia Reads; and goody bags from SimplyHelp. Each child received a raffle ticket for a chance to win one of several special toys.

Children enjoyed an array of holiday activities during the festivities, including decorating ornaments provided by Paint N Play and sharing secrets with Santa Claus himself.


A community effort

The Center has always looked to local individuals, businesses and organizations for support in helping local people in need. Key supporters of this year’s Holiday Distribution included the City of Monrovia We Care Foundation, Clairbourn School, Foothill Gym, Henry’s Farmers Market, JAKKS Pacific, Inc., Colleen McEvoy, The Marino Foundation, Marshalls, Monrovia Reads, Monrovia Unified, Paint N Play, SimplyHelp Foundation, Von’s Foundation, and Wells Fargo Foundation.

About Foothill Unity Center

Now in its 29th year, the Center provides crisis services for local families who struggle for basic food and shelter. Families qualify based on income and must reside in Altadena, Arcadia, Bradbury, Duarte, Monrovia, Pasadena, Sierra Madre, South Pasadena, Azusa, Baldwin Park or Irwindale. As the Community Action Agency for the Foothill Area, the organization is the voice for the poor in these communities. Operating with a small staff and a corps of dedicated volunteers, the non-denominational organization distributed over three million pounds of groceries to thousands of very low-income families last year. It also provides crisis services, clothing, limited motel vouchers, and referrals for the homeless and people in need. Clients meet stringent income guidelines and are recertified annually. Foothill Unity Center, Inc. is a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) corporation. The agency is service centered — with 95.8% of every dollar going to programs.

December 24, 2009

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