The end of the year is filled with the commercial rush of the holiday season, but there are also myriad opportunities to give back to the community. The following are a few programs geared toward helping local children through toy drives, movie events, and concerts.

MUSCLE BEACH TOY DRIVE — Muscle Beach/Venice host its first toy drive from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday, December 14th to 16th, on 18th Street between Speedway and Ocean Front Walk. The Venice Bible Tabernacle Church will be the recipient of the toys donated. All toys must be unwrapped.

The Venice Tabernacle Choir will perform from 3 to 4 p.m. Saturday, December 15th, on the Muscle Beach Stage, and Councilman Bill Rosendahl will be in attendance, says Joe Wheatley, organizer of the event.

Iron Man Magazine will give free magazines with coverage of the Fourth of July and Labor Day Muscle Beach contests to all people who donate a toy, BodyBuilding.com will give towels to people who donate, and HeadBlade is sponsoring a special drawing for four gift packages.

“Christmas is a time for giving, and bodybuilders are no different,” Wheatley says. “This event is a wonderful way to put the focus on a wonderful cause, and we’re working on having a Venice Christmas Parade in 2008, which will culminate in the toy drive.”

CHILDREN’S HOLIDAY MOVIE — Venice Family Clinic will treat 1,200 low-income children to a private screening of Alvin and the Chipmunks, on Saturday, December 15th, at the AMC Loews Marina 6, 13455 Maxella Ave., Marina del Rey.

The event is aimed to raise money to help with children’s healthcare during the 2008 year.

“It’s a way for the kids to have a fun holiday party, but we raise money by having our supporters sponsor a child or make a donation to the clinic,” says Alison Dockray, associate development director and organizer of this year’s event.

“The event was started 20 years ago by people in the entertainment industry, and it has been going strong since then,” Dockray says. “We bus some kids in, get the studios to give us free movies, and AMC has been really supportive in donating use of its four theaters for more than 15 years.”

Information, (310) 664-7921.

BEST GIFT EVER — Santa Monica Place, the Santa Monica Police Activities League, and the Bayside District Corporation have joined forces for the second annual Best Gift Ever Drive, one of several Winterlit holiday programs in Santa Monica.

Participants may drop off an unwrapped gift for children ages six to 17 at the Winterlit Gift Wrap Station, 1400 block of the Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica Place Guest Services, on Level 2, or at participating Santa Monica Starbucks locations.

From 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, December 20th, there will also be an “It’s a Wrap Party” in Room 189 of Santa Monica Place for volunteers to help wrap the donated gifts.

Information, www.winterlit .com/.

GIMME SHELTER BENEFIT CONCERT — New Roads School in Santa Monica held its 16th annual Gimme Shelter benefit concert, with KCRW, Tuesday, December 11th, at The Roxy Theatre on Sunset.

Proceeds support The Spectrum Program for autistic children, a highly specialized project of New Roads.

“Because of New Roads’ unparalleled financial aid program, events such as the Gimme Shelter event contribute to our overall effort to offer educational opportunities to students whose families would not otherwise be able to afford an independent school education,” says David Bryan, Head of School at New Roads. “This year, New Roads financial aid is 55 percent of its total operating expenses.”

Information on how to donate to the school, (310) 828-5582.

SPARK OF LOVE TOY DRIVE — The Santa Monica chapter of the American Red Cross, KABC Channel 7 and firefighters in a five-county area are running this year’s “Spark of Love Toy Drive” through Thursday, December 20th. A new unwrapped toy can be dropped off at the Santa Monica Red Cross chapter, any Santa Monica Fire Department station, CVS Pharmacy, and other participating locations.

Information, www.redcrossof santamonica.org/.

TOYS FOR TOTS — The offices of Dr. Marvin C. Lee will be accepting donations of toys through mid-December at 2701 Ocean Park Blvd. #101, Santa Monica.

Information, (310) 452-9146.

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