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VOLUNTEERS PLAY SANTA CLAUS TO REGION'S NEEDY.

Byline: Daily News

Christmas came a few days early for some of Southern California's neediest families this weekend.

From Thousand Oaks to Skid Row in Los Angeles, volunteers delivered recently wrapped presents, food and clothes Saturday to parents and children who might not otherwise have had the luxuries of the season.

The morning kicked off at St. Paschal Baylon Church in Thousand Oaks, where the Men's Club hosted its annual Christmas party for local families, complete with lunch, a magician, a clown and an appearance by Santa Claus.

Children each received a present and goody bag filled with candy and fruit. Parents were given food baskets and supermarket coupons for buying turkey and perishables.

``It's really for the kids, so they can have a Christmas like they see advertised on TV. It puts a smile on their faces,'' said Lisa West, with St. Paschal Baylon. ``The community also knows we're here to help them during Christmas.''

In North Hollywood, L.A. Family Housing hauled in 11 tons of snow to its Sydney M. Irmas Transitional Living Center to give children a chance to experience their own white Christmas. And gifts - donated by Angelenos - were handed out to formerly homeless children, who ranged from infants to late teens.

Los Angeles police officers and civilian employees at the Van Nuys Area Community Station held their annual Children's Holiday Party, handing out 200 gifts to needy children in their patrol area. It's a tradition that lets officers show their softer sides and play Santa for a day.

``We like to give back to the community,'' said Sgt. David Rosenthal. ``No kid should go without a present during the holiday season.''

Over at the Holy Family Mission Church in North Hollywood, State Sen. Richard Alarcon, D-Van Nuys, arranged to help hand out gifts to some 700 kids. The presents were purchased by donations by local businesses and Alarcon.

The Pacoima Temple Corps League of Mercy planned to deliver 1,000 gifts to patients in convalescent homes.

Downtown, hundreds of volunteers planned to hand out new donated toys, blankets and bags of groceries to children and families at the Fred Jordan Mission on Skid Row. Mickey and Minnie Mouse - courtesy of the Walt Disney Co. - were scheduled to perform for the children.

CAPTION(S):

2 photos

Photo:

(1) A clown entertains two boys at a Christmas party at St. Paschal Baylon in Thousand Oaks on Saturday.

(2) At St. Paschal Baylon Church, a pile of gifts is designated for needy kids.

Gene Blevins/Special to the Daily News
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Copyright 2003, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 21, 2003
Words:423
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