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On the Town: Glendale Latino Assn. joined by police at Porto’s for a festive holiday event

Members of Cops for Kids are, from left, police officer Joe Allen, service officer Amy Tate and Capt. Tim Feeley.  On the far right is Albert Hernandez, president of the Glendale Latino Assn.
Members of Cops for Kids are, from left, police officer Joe Allen, service officer Amy Tate and Capt. Tim Feeley. On the far right is Albert Hernandez, president of the Glendale Latino Assn.
(Ruth Sowby Rands)

Holiday mixers by the handful flourish this time of year. Organizations use their best caterers, lean on their best sponsors and trot out their best raffle prizes.

On Nov. 18, members of the Glendale Latino Assn. held their annual holiday toy drive and mixer at Porto’s Bakery & Cafe.

Close to 80 members, guests and supporters brought toys — wrapped or otherwise — for the Glendale Police Department’s Cops for Kids program.

Amy Tate is the Cops for Kids chairwoman and a civilian police service officer. She said the toys will go to local families in need “adopted” by the Glendale Police Officers Assn.

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Often, community elementary schools refer families to the police department. Sometimes, officers on call at a household will discover needs that can be met.

Police Officer Joe Allen was present to represent the Glendale Police Officers Assn. Police Capt. Tim Feeley was on hand to further explain the toy drive and its several collection points around the city. It’s the mixer that kicks off the drive each year.

Albert Hernandez, president of the Glendale Latino Assn., said the goal of the mixer is “to secure as many toys as possible.” Piled high were plenty of plush toys, small trucks, dolls, giant crayons, toddler jewelry and craft sets.

Porto’s co-owner Betty Porto serves Cuban sweets to Pamela Spiszman at the Glendale Latino Assn.'s toy drive mixer.
Porto’s co-owner Betty Porto serves Cuban sweets to Pamela Spiszman at the Glendale Latino Assn.'s toy drive mixer.
(Ruth Sowby Rands)

Porto’s co-owner Betty Porto passed around overflowing trays of the cafe’s Cuban specialties such as guava cakes, cheese rolls, dulce de leche pastries and pumpkin cheesecake.

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Tastings of the new broccoli, cauliflower and cheddar soup were also available to guests. And those were only the appetizers. Cuban sandwiches filled with grilled pork were served for dinner if anyone was still hungry.

Among Glendale residents present were city representatives including power couples, Vartan and Armina Gharpetian and Art and Paula Devine.

Vartan Gharpetian and Paula Devine are Glendale City Council members. Armina Gharpetian is a board member of the Glendale Unified school board.

Also attending were Yasmin Beers, Glendale’s city manager, Elissa Glickman, Glendale Arts’ chief executive, as well as Glendale Latino Assn. members Jose and Monica Sierra and Lou and Miryam Finkelberg, with their son, Matt, fresh from passing his bar exam.

In addition, there were Mercy Velasquez, past president of the Glendale Latino Assn., and Camille Levee and Susan Hunt, who never misses an opportunity to contribute.

Also present was Denise Miller, a former “Woman of the Year” honoree by the association.

Recognized were the newest members of the Glendale Latino Assn., Jason Hair and Mari Banchio, co-owners of the Beer Tap Shack, a mobile trailer based in La Crescenta.

At the end of the evening, Capt. Feeley couldn’t have said it better: “We see the negative side of life. But this toy drive keeps us going.”

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Close on the heels of the Glendale Latino Assn. mixer was the Thanksgiving Kiwanis mixer at Gauchos Village in Glendale. Last Wednesday, about 50 members and guests showed up to sip, sup and socialize.

Randy Slaughter, the new local Kiwanis president, pressed the flesh and encouraged all to belly up to the bar and buffet tables. Among those enjoying the heavy hors d’ouvres were Bruce and Debbie Hinckley, Jose and Monica Sierra, Lou and Miryam Finkelberg, Cathy Keen, Shannon Boggs, Pamela Spiszman and Mike and Karen Swan, who was just been announced as the Glendale Latino Assn.’s 2020 “Woman of the Year.”

Kiwanian Stephen Ropfogel had some exciting news he shared with friends. “I’m sleeping out,” he said, having accepted Covenant House California’s challenge to raise funds and sleep on the street the following night “so homeless youth don’t have to.” Covenant House California is a shelter for youth experiencing homelessness and trafficking.

Slaughter’s expectation for the evening? “That people are checking us out and thinking about joining,” he said.

Don’t miss Hoover High School PTA’s free holiday tea and boutique on Dec. 14. It will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the lower quad of the school, located at 651 Glenwood Road, Glendale.

The boutique and silent auction are free, while the tea costs $10.

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Tickets can be purchased at gusd.net/Page/11756 or at the Coffee Commissary, 1419 W. Kenneth Road, Glendale.

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