Children Enjoy an Early Hillsides Christmas at Pasadena Charity

Christmas came early to Hillsides this year for the children who live in the Residential Treatment Services program as they celebrated the annual Hillsides Christmas celebration the morning of December 22.
The 62 children who live on the Hillsides Pasadena campus were dressed in their holiday best, the boys in buttoned-down shirts and Christmas sweaters and the girls in festive dresses. They first enjoyed a special breakfast of their choosing — French toast, eggs and bacon, and cereal prepared by Hillsides Food Service Director Reggie Williams and his staff. They then sang Christmas carols, led by Stacey Roth, Hillsides chief program officer.
As the children were finishing breakfast, Hillsides elves, a.k.a. Hillsides group rehab specialists, were busy delivering gifts to the cottages where the children live. The children then went back to their cottages, where they each opened a stocking and gifts personally selected for them.
“Are these all for me?” one little girl asked as she dove into a pile of presents. Another boy yelled in delight as he opened a sports beanie he’d asked for. Another little girl was so overwhelmed with her gifts of a Barbie princess set and a dance leotard that she jumped up and down with excitement.
“Many of the children at Hillsides have missed out on these holiday traditions. Receiving gifts have an incredible amount of meaning for the children,” said Joseph M. Costa, Hillsides chief executive officer. “They are more than gifts, they demonstrate to the children that people care for them and are taking the time to do something special for them. Hillsides Christmas celebration is a cherished tradition and we are so thankful for all the donors who fulfilled the holiday wishes of the children. With their support, the children are able to have a happy Christmas.”
The Hillsides Christmas continues throughout the day. After opening gifts, children received a visit from Santa and his elves (Hillsides volunteers, including students from local Pasadena schools Mayfield Senior School and Westridge School), and had their photos taken with Santa.
The children next enjoy an early holiday dinner, and in the evening perform in a special holiday show at the Church of Angels, which is next door to Hillsides. Family and friends are invited to the performance, and Hillsides recognizes Christmas, Hanukah, and Kwanza. A second holiday show is planned for December 23.
On Christmas Eve, December 24, children will attend a party at The Langham Huntington, Pasadena, sponsored by a volunteer group at Hillsides, the Hillsides Volunteer Network. The children will also dress up for that event, and receive stockings from Santa.
The Christmas Eve party wraps up a holiday season where numerous organizations and companies provided holiday cheer for many of the 8,950 children and families Hillsides serves, including the children who live in the residential treatment program. Hillsides is a premier provider dedicated to improving the overall functioning and well-being of vulnerable children, youth, and their families. For more information on Hillsides, please visit www.hillsides.org.
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