The Rotary Club of North Hollywood held its annual Children's Christmas Party and Lunch on Monday, at the on Vineland Avenue. About 120 students from elementary schools in North Hollywood were showered with love, food, gifts, and a special visit from Santa.
Shortly before noon, a school bus filled with giddy children and their adult chaperones arrived in front of the hotel, where they were warmly greeted by several Rotary Club members and invited into the hotel's ballroom.
Several tables were festively decorated with green and red balloons, fancy plates, napkins and silverware and signs that identified their respective schools. The smell of pizza and sweets filled the air.
Alongside the rotarians providing hospitality, a group of students from the Interact club of assisted in serving food, wrapping gifts and providing holiday cheer to the children. Interact is the high school version of the Rotary Club, and the North Hollywood High School chapter works closely with the local Rotarians.
Shakeh Grigor, the chairperson responsible for organizing this annual affair, said, "For most of these kids, either because of personal reasons or financial reasons, they cannot have any Christmas. This is the only Christmas party they have."
Children in attendance were well-mannered and truly enjoyed the very generous and useful party favors provided to them by the Rotarians. One member acquired all the knit caps and mitts that adorned the children's heads and hands, adding a touch of "Winter Wonderland" to the room.
Other playful items like plastic guns that lit up and blew soap bubbles, large candy canes and "jingle bells" were set on the tables for the kids to use to welcome Santa on his arrival.
After their pictures with Santa, kids unwrapped their gifts with awe and excitement. Gracious and joyful, the children played and shared the toys they received. One child offered his chocolate chip cookie to Santa. Smiles and laughter filled the room.
Suzanne Toyryla, president of the Rotary Club chapter in North Hollywood, said "the Rotary Club is an international service organization that was started over a hundred years ago, and has now expanded into the whole world. Rotary does 'service above self' in local communities and also internationally."
Toyrlya says that the North Hollywood chapter has served overseas in places like the Congo and the Phillipines, in addition to its local community service.
The Rotary Club of North Hollywood has been hosting the annual Children's Christmas Party and Lunch for the past 10 years.