Can you believe how fast this year has gone, especially since it seemed like the presidential campaign was going to last forever?

VENICE ROTARY — The Venice Marina Rotary Club has been quietly participating in several events for many years to bring smiles to the faces of children in our community.

One such event has been a holiday party at the McBride Elementary School at 3960 Centi-nela Ave., Mar Vista.

McBride Elementary School is a public elementary and second-ary special education campus that serves approximately 250 moderately to severely disabled and medically fragile children.

The majority of the students come from low-income families and many are in foster care or group homes.

This year’s holiday party will be held at noon Wednesday, December 15th, and will include refreshments and new toys for distribution by Santa Claus for each of the Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts in the McBride Scouting Program.

Everyone sings Christmas carols and spends special one-on-one time with the children to make it a real party for them.

VENICE HIGH AWARDS — Another event that has been sponsored by the Venice Marina Rotary Club since 1984 has been the Venice High School (VHS) Community Awards Luncheon.

This year, the awards event will be at noon Thursday, December 9th.

Fifty-three graduating high school seniors will receive VHS jackets for their high academic achievement and/or their perfect attendance.

Several other awards will be given out, including the Venice Marina Rotary Club Community Leadership Award. This award will be presented to Liz Forer, Venice Family Clinic executive director.

The Venice Family Clinic is the largest free clinic in the nation and has been serving our community for 35 years.

Information on either of these two events, Willie Hjorth, (310) 822-9344.

OAKWOOD PARTY — We are continuing to plan for the holiday party for boys and girls at the Oakwood Recreation Center, 767 California Ave., Venice, from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, December 17th.

The party for the Mar Vista Gardens Community Center, 4909 Allin Drive, will be from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, December 13th.

Both of these events are being sponsored by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), the city attorney, Los Angeles Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski, the City of Los Angeles Fire Department, the LAPD Pacific Area Boosters, the Villa Marina Market Place, the Abbot Kinney District Association, the Venice Marina Rotary Club, the Venice Chamber of Commerce, and many other generous community supporters.

Pete and Heidi Llanes, two LAPD Pacific Area police officers, built a sleigh this year for Santa’s ride.

Prior to the start of the parties, Santa will be riding around the surrounding areas, handing out candy canes and wishing everyone a merry Christmas.

Santa will then look forward to having all the good little girls and boys tell him what they want for Christmas and then allowing them to choose a new toy donated by all of our sponsors.

It is not too late to help by donating a new unwrapped toy at the Pacific Community Police Station, 12312 Culver Blvd., Del Rey, and our local City of Los Angeles Fire Stations.

Information, LAPD Pacific Community Police Station Community Relations Office, (310) 202-4524.

ON-LINE AUCTION — St. Joseph Center is holding its first on-line auction, “Share the Season,” through Friday, December 17th, at

Many items, including TV studio passes, museum memberships, gift certificates, and a four-day trip to Zimbabwe, will be auctioned.

Proceeds will assist homeless and low-income individuals and families in Venice, Santa Monica, and West Los Angeles to attain self-sufficiency.

St. Joseph Center has 11 different programs, providing emergency services, food distribution, childcare, after-school mentoring, case management, job training, and senior services to more than 7,000 men, women, and children each year.

Information, (3l0) 396-6468 ext. 328 or visit

CENTENNIAL PLANNING —The holidays are usually a slow time for organizations and committees planning events.

Not so with the Venice Centennial Development Committee, which is working through the holidays to reach funding goals.

“Our recent fundraising reception at the Canal Club not only raised over $10,000,” said Michael McMillan, Centennial Development Committee co-chair, “but it also served to bring a team of dedicated people together to work toward a common goal.”

As a result, the Venice Centennial has been able to attract national sponsors such as Arrowhead Springs and Nintendo, as well as local sponsors to provide funding for the events next year.

“We look to our national sponsors to provide the major funding for the Venice Centennial and to give us the ability to make capital improvements to the community as a lasting monument to the 100-year celebration,” said David Buchanan, Venice Centennial co-chair.

He also said that even though our local sponsors are more concerned with the content and focus of individual events, he is most excited about the Memorial Jazz Festival in the spring, a multimedia production of Venice history involving youths of the Oakwood area, and an outdoor production of the award-winning play Venice, written by famed local playwright Kathleen McGhee-Anderson.

The play is a modern fable centering on two families whose lives collide in Venice and it deals with social issues, including racism, urban violence, homelessness, and the legacy of the Vietnam War.

“It is a story that celebrates personal, family, and community healing, and we are hoping to do the play in August,” says Bu-chanan.

What a wonderful way to close out the Venice Centennial by providing the people of Venice with this extraordinary gift.

LOCAL SPONSOR — Speaking of local sponsors, the Venice Centennial has received a large sponsorship donation from Andy Layman of Venice Beach Suites and Hotel.

“Andy has not only provided the centennial with a much needed financial contribution, he has also volunteered his time to help make the centennial a success,” says Robert Feist, Centennial Development Committee co-chair. “With Andy’s help, and the assistance and involvement of other local sponsors, we are going to have a great centennial celebration.”

Happy holidays.

Mary Richert can be reached at