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City West Busy With Holiday

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Monday, December 21, 2009, at 11:25AM
IMGP9558 Ed Fuentes

LAPD Hollenbeck Division became Holly-Beck for a holiday mixer held at the Mayfair.

As Downtown proper held parties and gave away toys to children, the neighborhood immediately west of the 110 has also been busy with the holiday spirit.

Last week, Hollenback and Rampart officers strolled into the Mayfair Hotel for a mixer and toy drive, and after giving Santa Claus a firm handshake, they dropped off toys and mingle with business and community leaders. By the end of the night, officers were in the lobby, next to the piano singing "Jingle Bells."

Hosted and organized by the Mayfair Hotel, the LAPD Hollenbeck and Rampart Police Activities League (PAL) Holiday Toy Drive and Business Mixer was also a chance to sample local eateries, including The Sandwich Joint (1068 W. 7th St). Guest speakers included LAPD First Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell, and Mrs. Kamsiah Kamaruddin, wife of the Consul General of Malaysia.

The LAPD PAL programs were founded by the LAPD's Hollenbeck Division and community residents in 1992, a west coast version of a New York program, and now every LAPD division offers the outreach program for their immediate community.

It's the strength of community, and holiday good will, that brings Latinos, Americans, and Asian-communities together said Kamaruddin.

Also in City West, a parking garage underneath the Wells Fargo on Wilshire and Bixel became Santa's Workshop on Saturday afternoon. For the tenth year, community counseling organization Amanecer passed out donated toys and food to over 1,000 children and families, many of whom are clients.

Amanecer offers mental health services and other social service resources to low income, working poor, homeless families living just west or in central Downtown Los Angeles.

The afternoon party was organized into stations where children and families could pick up toys, take a photo with Santa and listen to jazz music. There were also workstations provided for children who wanted to make holiday cards thanking donors.

As with all organizations this year, donations were harder to secure, and there was an increase in families needing assistance. Organizer Laura Gonzalez-Rivera reports her staff from Amanecer scrambled until the final day of the drive. Despite the hard times, every child attending got a toy or two, and there were enough food baskets filled to feed a family of four to go around.

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