Every year Universal Studios Hollywood’s gets into the spirit of giving with their annual “Christmas in Spring” event. Held at M.E.N.D (Meet Each Need with Dignity) in Pacoima, the event gives low income families a chance to celebrate and have some fun. This was a particularly auspicious year as it marked a milestone of 25 years of bringing springtime holiday cheer to the people in need. With hundreds of Universal Studios Hollywood volunteer employees giving of themselves, this year’s “Christmas in Spring” ushered in a festive atmosphere.

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Those registered with the community center were invited in at noon and treated to a festival filled with endless generosity. To start off there was face painting.  I mean, what kid doesn’t like that?

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Next, every child could choose a book to take as their very own. There were books for every level of reading too.

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There were also plenty of arts and crafts to do. Universal employees in blue shirts volunteered to spend time having fun with kids, making unique pieces of art.

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There were also carnival games where every player was a winner.

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Of course, with it being Christmas and all, Santa was on hand. July is usually a pretty slow time for him so he was able to make it down from the North Pole for the weekend. Of course, he left the elves at home and, instead, teamed with a collection of mischievous Minions from the theme park’s popular “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem” ride.

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The children of Universal employees were also giving of themselves to brighten the community.

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Since its inception, “Christmas in Spring” has impacted the lives of over 15,000 less fortunate individuals, providing them with the opportunity to enjoy a fun outing during a time of year when the needs of these families are often overlooked. But why Christmas in Spring? Director, Employee and Community Services at Universal Studios Hollywood, Dorothea G. Scattaglia explained it this way, “We chose Christmas because everybody knows Christmas as a fun time where everyone is happy and having a good time.” Looking around I saw nothing but a sea of smiles and happiness around me as families sat, listening to live music and enjoying food.

Outside, both kids and families alike were able to meet their favorite characters.

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“Supporting M.E.N.D. is a cornerstone of our philanthropic efforts as we partner to empower those in need through this much-loved ‘Christmas in Spring’ program,” said Larry Kurzweil, President, Universal Studios Hollywood. “It’s incredibly rewarding to have such a compassionate workforce who themselves become empowered by the greater good to do the right thing in helping to make a difference in the lives of others.”
Philanthropy is a major initiative for Universal Studios Hollywood through its acclaimed Discover A Star Foundation. Founded in 1994, Discover A Star provides grants to deserving organizations whose initiatives help individuals and families to achieve more productive and fulfilling lives.

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Larry Kurzweil, President, Universal Studios Hollywood and his wife.
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Dorothea G. Scattaglia • Director, Employee and Community Services at Universal Studios Hollywood (Left) helps out at the buffet

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Spongebob crashed the buffet tent and went around saying hi to guests.

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In the spirit of paying it forward, Discover A Star grant recipient, A Window Between Worlds, will provide an arts and crafts station. The non-profit group is dedicated to using art as a healing tool to empower and transform individuals and communities impacted by violence and trauma, while inspiring women and children to recover a sense of renewal and independence through creative expression.