California First Lady Maria Shriver was among community members who volunteered to serve over 580 guests at the Family Center Holiday Party of the St. Joseph Center in Venice December 20th.
Other volunteers included TV personality Jay Mohr and Shriver’s brother, Santa Monica City Council member Bobby Shriver. They were part of a group of over 30 volunteers who served the 580 guests, the largest number of clients the social service center has seen since the event was held at the St. Monica auditorium three years ago.
The St. Monica Catholic Community hosted the event by providing volunteers, Christmas carols and the meal.
Monsignor Lloyd Torgerson opened the festivities with a blessing. Face painting, Girl Scout cookies, live entertainment, balloon making, a visit from Santa and raffle prize giveaways were among activities provided for guests, which included both adults and children.
Large-scale donations from community supporters such as the Endeavour Foundation and the NBC Toy Drive were used as raffle prizes, which included toy chests filled with games, stuffed animals and dolls, bicycles, iPods and household appliances.
The Family Development Network was also on hand to provide information on how low-income families can break through economic challenges.
The St. Monica Catholic Community also participated in the center’s Adopt-A-Family Program by “adopting” 200 families and individuals. The program helps ensure that the center’s clients receive gifts and holiday meals. Wish lists generated by client families or individuals included $25 gift cards from local retail stores. In addition to the retail gift cards, each family member or individual was given $25 grocery gift cards from local markets.
The St. Joseph Center serves more than 6,000 individuals annually through ten integrated programs and a Thrift Store that offers used items for sale to the public and offers vouchers for free clothing and household goods to those in need.