More than 900 gifts were distributed to children from shelters and foster homes earlier this month around Los Angeles and Ventura counties as part of Malibu-based Safety Harbor Kid’s holiday celebration.
This year’s event treated 168 children, who would not have had a Christmas, a meal, new shoes and other presents and stockings stuffed with school supplies.
"You can actually see the children change before your very eyes as they realize they are loved and we are helping them," said SHK President Petrie Alexandra Williams. "They arrive somewhat guarded and withdrawn and within an hour or two they are smiling with a bounce in their step."
More than 150 volunteers from Santa Barbara to Beverly Hills gathered at Duke's in Malibu earlier this month to prepare the gifts for distribution.
As kids arrived they walked through Lollipop Lane and into a decorated room with four Christmas trees each with hundreds of presents under them.
The children heard from several motivational speakers.
“After hearing your speakers, it made me want to go to college,” said Danny, a 16-year-old foster child.
The children made toys in Santa's Workshop and other art lessons. Each child received a stocking and a holiday meal with all the trimmings donated by Duke’s. They were also given new shoes by the Show Crew, the children got presents.
The event was supported by Duke's, Houlihan Lokey, Pepperdine University and Hertz Family Foundation and others.
Celebrity supporters include Reece Witherspoon, James Belushi, Ed Asner, Jeremy Piven, Mel Gibson, John Savage, and Bonnie Raitt. SHK's special events are designed to inspire the children in music, art, college and career development.
Safety Harbor Kids serves disadvantaged children in more than 15 group homes and shelters within 50 miles of Malibu and Ventura.