Season for Sharing : Snow Brightens Day of Holiday Events for Children

Times Staff Writer

Two teen-age boys wore bermuda shorts and T-shirts as they tossed a football around on Saturday, enjoying the sunshine that flooded Exposition Park. Less than 20 feet away, young children wearing mittens and winter coats threw different objects.


Several hundred kids pelted each other and frolicked in about 60 tons of man-made snow, an early Christmas treat for the youngsters from the California Museum of Science and Industry.

"We wanted to have a holiday celebration that was a mixture of technology, science and fun," said Evan Nossoff, a museum spokesman.

Something for the Feet

Several miles away, other children were enjoying a different kind of present: new tennis shoes. County workers fitted about 1,000 grade-school children from low-income families with the footwear, donated by the Adolph Coors Co.

"This is nice," said Iris White, a 33-year-old welfare recipient as she watched three of her four young sons try on shoes. "They weren't going to have much of a Christmas this month. The budget's pretty tight."

Throughout Los Angeles on Saturday, from a clothes giveaway on Skid Row to a star-studded outing at a Downey hospital, volunteers made snow, threw parties and presented clothing and toys to scores of underprivileged and sick children.

About 800 youngsters were bused from their homes in Central Los Angeles housing projects to a party in Hollywood, where puppets, a trampoline, wandering singers, Santa and toys awaited them. It was the 26th annual Christmas children's party, sponsored by World Opportunities International, which regularly provides the Southland's inner cities with 380,000 pounds of food a week.

In tribute to World Opportunities International's work, Mayor Tom Bradley declared Saturday "Help the Children Day," after the group's logo.

Meanwhile, a clothes and toy giveaway was within walking distance for Skid Row children, whose families were invited to browse through countless piles of coats, pants and shoes neatly organized in a parking lot next to the Union Rescue Mission.

Tina Reyes, 4, selected a small "Susanna" doll with a pink dress, then helped her mother choose a toy caboose and plastic hand game for her two brothers.

"This is especially nice for kids who don't have any toys," said Vickie Reyes, 27, who is on welfare. Her daughter was one of about 500 kids and 2,000 residents of Skid Row who received toys and clothing from the sixth annual "Care and Share" program, sponsored by the Los Angeles Police Department's Reserve.

Christmas was delivered to young patients at Rancho Los Amigos Medical Center in Downey as about 200 celebrities swarmed into the world-renowned rehabilitation center.

It was the 18th year the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences had gathered the television personalities for the event.

A Special Event

"This is a big thing for these people," said Bernice Kellar, medical center spokesperson. "Without it, Christmas is another day of the week in this place as far as most of the patients are concerned."

Celebrities spent the day in the wards of the hospital to present gifts and sign autographs with old and young patients. Later, they raced wheelchairs and sang Christmas carols with them in the parking lot.

"I'll hear about this from tomorrow to next December," said Barbara Matthews, whose daughter Michele is an outpatient at the center. Michele, 15, who suffered brain damage in a car accident in 1984, followed blonde actor Clayton Norcross of "The Bold and the Beautiful" in her wheelchair as he strolled around one ward.

Some of the actors "are cute," she noted, after asking Norcross for an autographed photo.

Elsewhere, local celebrities and politicians celebrated a Christmas party honoring Para Los Ninos, a child-care facility for inner-city and Skid Row residents, and local K-Mart stores welcomed needy children into their aisles for their third annual holiday shopping spree for the underprivileged.

Each store nationwide allowed 20 children to pick out $20 worth of merchandise and treated them to breakfast and a visit with Santa.

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