The Christmas spirit is alive and well in the longshoremen community. For the past 15 years, ILWU locals have shared their hearts and good fortune and brought holiday
cheer to over 3,000 children. It began in 1998 when the longshoremen community came together and created their first Christmas Toy Drive. Volunteers gathered donated toys and delivered them to local children hospitals and wards. Eventually, the toy drive grew into an ILWU Children’s Christmas Party.
Every year, the ILWU Children’s Christmas Party brings smiles to over 3,000 kids in need. This year is no different. Preparation for the event begins early with the committee requesting donations from the various ILWU locals and members. With the money collected, the committee purchases a variety of toys. Mattel considers them one of their top buyers.
The committee then reaches out to various non-profits like Volunteers of America Headstart Program, United Families, Robert F Kennedy Institute, San Pedro Service Center, Headstart Programs in Harbor City, San Pedro and Wilmington to find low-income families in the area.
Then holiday magic begins when ILWU volunteers gather to segregate the toys into categories. The volunteers separated by age, type of toy, size and gender. The Memorial Hall is transformed into Santa’s workshop. On one side of the hall, you’ll see rows and rows of toys. On the other side, tables decorated in holiday colors and ready for a party. The families walk in and each child is allowed to choose one toy. The participants then walk into the party area where cookies, cake and punch are served.
The ILWU Children’s Christmas Party would not be possible without the efforts of longshoremen and their families. Lisa Tonson, ILWU Holiday Committee coordinator, would like to invite all ILWU union brothers and sisters to help bring a smile to a child’s face. If you’d like to volunteer for this event please be at Memorial Hall anytime after 9 am on December 17, 2012.
Many thanks to those members and friends of Locals 13, 26, 63, 94, the Women’s Aux #8, So. Cal Pensioners, Longshoremen Memorial Association and the Local 63 Memorial Association. This is truly the most wonderful time of the year!