Hundreds of Universal Studios Hollywood employee volunteers became Santa’s helpers for Universal’s annual “Christmas in Spring” celebration on Saturday, June 2. Spreading cheer six months early has been a grand pre-holiday tradition for Universal Studios Hollywood’s community outreach event held at the Pacoima headquarters of M.E.N.D. (Meet Each Need with Dignity) on San Fernando Road.
The partnership between Universal and M.E.N.D. brought goodwill to a record number of guests (about 1,000) embracing children and low-income families in need with a joyous day of fun.
The interactive festivities included gifts, carnival games and face painters, creative do-it-yourself crafts, plus a live DJ getting the kids up to dance to their favorite tunes. A great custom-prepared luncheon was offered by the Universal chefs for the families. Universal Studios Hollywood President and COO Karen Irwin was seen as one of the most enthusiastic servers working alongside the tremendous volunteer staff who presented the holiday feast.
All of the employee volunteers wore T-shirts that proclaimed “Giving is Universal,” which is more than a catchphrase for them; it is a way of life for the good and generous helpers. Many said the “Christmas in Spring” is their favorite charity event sponsored by Universal Studios Hollywood and it’s “Discover A Star” Foundation. The Foundation provides grants to deserving organizations whose initiatives help individuals and families to achieve more productive and fulfilling lives.
Celebrating its 27th year, “Christmas in Spring” has touched the lives of over 16,000 family members living in poverty in the San Fernando Valley, providing them with holiday cheer during a time of year when their needs are often overlooked. It has made a positive impact in the Valley. Over the years, this reporter has observed that it is one of the hallmarks of the Universal spirit and their philanthropic culture, going beyond corporate responsibility to help people in need in our community.
Creating the biggest smiles at the event were the merry mischievous Minions from the theme park’s popular “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem” ride. They posed for photos with the youngsters, along with Puss N’ Boots, SpongeBob SquarePants, Scooby-Doo, Shaggy, King Julian and other Universal characters. All were seen making new friends at the special “Christmas in Spring” event.
Margie Barron is a member of the Television Critics Association and has written for a variety of top publications for more than 35 years, and was proud to be half of the husband and wife writing team of Margie and Frank Barron.