The organization provides services to families in Malibu and surrounding areas like Oxnard
By Samantha Bravo
Of The Malibu Times
The Boys & Girls Club of Malibu (BGCM) spread joy to over 300 families in Oxnard during its annual Toy Drive & Christmas Celebration on Dec. 9.
During the event, youth and their families enjoyed a warm holiday breakfast, participated in fun games and activities, including arts and crafts, face painting, carnival games, photo booths, giveaways, a kindness is free booth, a meet-and-greet with Santa, and raffles. One lucky family was also given a Christmas tree for this holiday season. After taking photos with Santa, kids that attend received wrapped presents to take home, and gift cards.
Volunteers included counselors, teachers, principals, assistant principals from Hueneme School District, Boys & Girls Club staff and interns, and the executive cabinet from Hueneme District, Malibu and Oxnard Community.
Director of Community Affairs and Outreach Siugen Constanza said the event was in collaboration with Boys & Girls Club of Malibu, Pepperdine University, Baby2Baby, Waveside Church, and Hueneme School District.
Williams Elementary hosted the Annual Winterfest for families within the Hueneme Elementary School District as a collaboration with the Boys & Girls Club of Malibu, Waveside Church, and families from the Malibu community who were very generous to buy gifts, and gifts cards from the local grocery store for these families.
“I honestly can say that this is one of my favorite events throughout the year, as I have seen how, as a community, we come along and achieve the same goal,” Constanza said. “Your heart gets full of joy, and you feel that this is what the holiday really is: to give back, to teach others, especially the young generation, and not forget how grateful we are as sometimes we can’t see it. When I think about holidays, one word comes to my mind: ‘Gratitude,’ and I will quote John O’Leary: ‘Gratitude leads not only toward a heart that is thankful for what you have but also grants you the courage and determination to move through any adversity you face.'”
“We are so blessed that this year, we had new partners participating, such as Pepperdine University and Baby2Baby, who also provided gifts for children in Malibu and our Winterfest,” Constanza continued. “We also have over 50 volunteers, including children, teachers, our Winterfest Committee, principals, assistant principals, support teachers, administrative assistants, counselors, social workers, and executive cabinet from our Hueneme District as well Dr. Christine Walker provided a school bus for the families to attend this event by picking them up and dropping them off. This provides relief to the parents who won’t be able to come due to transportation issues.”
It was really a Winterfest, as it was a well-attended event with about 300 people, children, guardians, and parents.
Families enjoyed breakfast, face painting, arts and crafts stations, and Vince Gomez, teacher at Williams Elementary School, taught DIY wooden cars.
This year, they were able to add new partners: Friendships Bracelet, sponsored by Pepperdine Students; and a Financial Literacy booth by Pepperdine Professors Dr. Luisa Blanca and Dr. Nataria Joseph, from the School of Public Policy and the Social Science Division, respectively.
Constanza thanked the volunteers and additional partners.
“Families were very thankful to have the opportunity to receive these gifts and feel relieved that they did not have to worry about gifts for their children this year,” Constanza said. “They looked at their children’s faces when Santa and the gifts were given. Every year, we are growing more; more families in need will benefit from this event. As a result, we are always looking for new sponsors, businesses, donors, and anyone who wants to make a difference in a child’s life during the holiday season.”
The City of Oxnard, known for its rich farming history, coastal farmlands, and contributions to the agriculture industry, is in the top 3 percent of the most expensive cities in the world. Over 86 percent of the students of Fred L. William Elementary are Hispanic and majority are children of migrant workers who work in the fields, many as seasonal workers who only stay through the harvesting season, and many don’t make a livable wage for the area.
Boys & Girls Club of Malibu is committed to representing and providing services to the most diverse and underrepresented populations in the Malibu community and surrounding areas like Oxnard. Many migrant Oxnard families are low-income and with the rising cost of living plus inflation, the holidays bring additional financial stress — that’s why the club wants to ensure kids and their families receive the resources and support they need to have a cheerful holiday season.
Those interested can email Constanza at firstname.lastname@example.org, director of community affairs and outreach, if they want to be part of the change and experience gratitude the way we all experience it in this event.