Universal Studios Hollywood and M.E.N.D. Enjoy Springtime Holiday Cheer

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Univeral’s volunteers and Santa are the heart of the “Christmas in Spring” event at M.E.N.D.

Univeral’s volunteers and Santa are the heart of the “Christmas in Spring” event at M.E.N.D.

Universal’s “Discover a Star Foundation” volunteers joined forces with the mischievous little Minions from the all-new “’Despicable Me’ Minion Mayhem” 3-D Ultra-HD ride at Universal Studios Hollywood. They all helped continue a wonderful tradition with Santa and the “Christmas in Spring” event at the M.E.N.D. (Meeting Each Need with Dignity) headquarters in Pacoima. The event was designed as a fun outing during a time of year when the needs of low income families are often overlooked.

The annual celebration is now in its 23rd year helping M.E.N.D. families. Thanks tsso the big hearted folks at Universal Studios Hollywood, a thousand shelter residents enjoyed unseasonable holiday cheer. A tropically-clad Santa Claus was on hand as less fortunate families got gifts and enjoyed the festivities in a carnival atmosphere. Diego and Dora the Explorer, Shrek, Scooby-Doo, Shaggy, Beetlejuice, and many other popular characters were seen strolling around making new friends. The little yellow Minions making the rounds were getting the biggest hugs from their pint-size fans.

USH’s Larry Kurzweil and wife Lauren help with holiday cheer.

USH’s Larry Kurzweil and wife Lauren help with holiday cheer.

There was a holiday feast with 600 pounds of chicken, along with vegetables, salads, fresh fruit and desserts prepared by USH’s award-winning executive chef Eric Kopelow and served by the “Discover a Star” volunteers.

Universal Studios Hollywood president and chief operating officer Larry Kurzweil helped with the meal service and reported, “I could not be prouder. We are making a difference in the lives of everyone here today — these families, these children. It also makes a difference in the lives of our Universal employees who realize they are part of so much more than just working for a company. They know they work for a great company that cares about the community, and that’s why I couldn’t be prouder to be here and see all of this come together.”

Afternoon entertainment came from carnival games, face painters, a DJ and a mini-concert from singer/songwriter and Universal CityWalk street performer Megan Arial. She’s a rising star with a beautiful voice that captivated the kids and parents.

The spirit of the “Discover A Star” organization embodies the motto “Giving is Universal” that all of the Universal employee volunteers embrace. They happily showed they cared about all of the families, and appreciation was shown in all the smiles we saw.

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