Q. What has 600 pounds of chicken, 600 pounds of vegetables, 600 pounds of salad, 4,000 desserts, Shrek, Beetlejuice, Scooby-Doo, and Minions?
A. Universal Studios Hollywood’s 23rd annual “Christmas in Spring” celebration.
Universal Studios Hollywood is actively engaged in a wide variety of community programs and initiatives year round. Yesterday, Universal Studios Hollywood’s “Discover a Star” foundation gave back to the community by holding their annual “Christmas in Spring” event at the M.E.N.D. The largest poverty agency in the San Fernando valley, M.E.N.D. provides food, clothing, medical, dental, educational programs and other support services to 50,000+ clients per year.
Far away from the glare of the bright lights of Universal City, over 1,000 individuals from the community were able to take a break and enjoy food, fun, games and some movie magic. To be honest, this is not the sort of event that MiceChat covers. However, as we were in the area, we decided to drop by and see, first hand, how the team at Universal Studios Hollywood connects with the community.
Arriving at M.E.N.D., we made our way to the Community Center parking lot. A volunteer from the “Discover a Star” foundation, wearing a powder blue t-shirt, met us and invited into the event. To the right, red and white striped tents housed elves offering face painting.
Just past the face painting, kids 12 and under were able to stop by the book corner and pick one book to take home for their very own.
The sun was delivering some pretty intense heat, but there was plenty of water and ice cream on hand to keep folks cool.
A number of free games were set up along the main thoroughfare too.
All the fun and games were great. But that wasn’t all. Universal wasn’t just interested in showing these folks a good time, they wanted them fed too. A rather impressive all-you-can-eat buffet was offered.
Fun and food, check. But for Universal, that still wasn’t good enough. They hired entertainment too. Musician Megan Arial entertained the diners as they took in their fill of food.
We have to admit that the sincerity, the humble smiles and gratefulness from the parents put a lot of things into perspective. Nothing compared, though, to the smiles on the faces of the children.
As guests milled about enjoying the event, Universal characters came out to interact with the kids and adults alike.
When the stars of Universal Studios Hollywood’s new attraction, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, made their appearance the kids went nuts.
Two tents of arts and crafts were also set up.
The big “Christmas in Spring” moment was held inside the M.E.N.D. building. Here, guests could take a picture with Santa Claus himself.
Why Christmas in Spring? It’s simple. The needs of struggling families don’t have a season, they are constant. This is just the off-season version of the annual “Day Of Giving” event held at Universal Studios Hollywood park in November. But Universal does far more than this. Through the “Discover a Star” foundation, Universal employees work with 65 different non-profit organizations, donating thousands of volunteer hours annually, culminating in the Universal Studios Charity Golf Classic in September that brings in the year’s largest contributions.
“At the park we get to connect with visitors through our brand.” explained President and Chief Operating Officer of Universal Studios Hollywood, Larry Kurzweil. “But here,” he continued, “in these types of events, we are able to make a personal connection. We get to help people that really need it on a personal level.” Seeing all of the Universal employees helping people was impressive. From front line employee to top of the line executives, the team was unified in their mission to add a little joy to the lives of members of the community.
It was a remarkable day for the kids and families of M.E.N.D., thanks to the warm hearted folks at Universal Studios. Our hats are off to everyone who pulled off this wonderful event. It’s good to know that Universal cares and devotes so much time and energy to charitable activities outside of business. At the end of the day, it’s the smiles on the faces of the kids we’ll remember most. And that’s really what it’s all about.
If you’d like to get involved with M.E.N.D. or make a donation, we invite you to visit their website HERE.