Santa’s Helpers Are Everywhere

From l, Burbank Mayor Jess Talamantes, Anne Laughlin, and PSJMC Guild President Kathleen Marsden.

The spirit of Christmas was enjoyed by the Providence St. Joseph Medical Center Guild, when they celebrated 65 years of service with a holiday luncheon at Lakeside Golf Club. It was a fun gathering for the awesome volunteers with the organization. Everyone got a history lesson from Anne Laughlin, an original founding member who talked about how it all began in 1946 when doctors were very scarce in the Valley. When she gave the group a blessing before lunch, Sister Rose Byrne praised the ladies for their tremendous work helping with their “gift of giving to others.” And they continue to give, with all proceeds from the lunch going to benefit the Hyce and Howard Hill Neuroscience Institute.

The Guild’s dedicated Terry Campbell introduced program Chairwoman Marian Enos, President Kathleen Marsden, and special guest, the Mayor of the City of Burbank Jess Talamantes. The Mayor, who has a 32-year career of service as a Burbank firefighter (and graduate of John Burroughs High School), said his met his wife Sandy, a nurse, at St. Joe’s. “So I have a very special connection with you,” he told the Guild members.

Another special guest was Jim Maurer, a superb pianist who has been volunteering at the hospital for more than seven years. He plays in St. Joe’s main lobby to bring joy to others. What-a-guy.

The entertainment for the afternoon was by Henry Samuels, a unique musician who plays the harmonica. But that statement doesn’t do his talent justice. The 88-year-old Samuels is a master of the chromatic harmonica and a former Harmonica Rascal. He’s had an impressive career making that humble little instrument sound like a full orchestra, and he got the ladies to sing along to big band hits. He was even more extraordinary when he did a Fiddler on the Roof medley. For the livelier “New York, New York” number, several of the Guild ladies formed a chorus line, and Sister Rose sat tapping her toes. There was infectious enthusiasm from everyone, especially a trio of wonderful ladies I was happy to meet, Mary O’Mara, Barb Little, and Marg Layne. It was nice to see the dedicated Guild ladies get a chance to kick up their heels.

Santa’s Knitting Circle

La Knitterie Parisienne in Studio City is a warm and wonderful oasis where creative people gather to knit, tell stories, and share a friendship and love of yarn. It’s like that throughout the year, but around the holidays the queen of the shop, Edith Eig said, “It’s extra festive, because people are making things for their families and friends, and we all share stories about our homes, here at our home away from home.”

Edith wants to get people “hooked” on knitting because, “It’s good for your soul; not only do you get a nice hat, scarf, or warm sweater out of the experience, but after a tough year it would be good for people to take time to relax. When you knit your hands are busy, but your mind can go else where. Or you can enjoy the company of your friends.” Eig said it’s nicer when you have a group of friends around you, and her shop has its sip-and-knit gathering every Wednesday and Saturday when the ladies bring their knitting, pour some wine, and engage in great conversation.” There are more men knitting too, she noted. “A doctor has just joined us, saying it is good to keep his hands nimble.”

The La Knitterie Parisienne group has also turned into Santa’s helpers with Edith getting her knitting circle to do little squares to make blankets for the Warm Up America organization that helps the homeless and others in need of warmth and caring.

Ho-Ho-Hollywood

One of Santa’s Hollywood helpers is Lash Fary, who established Distinctive Assets in 1999. Actually Fary gets to play Santa all year long, as the go-to-guy for producing fabulous gift bags and backstage gift lounges for many major awards show, including the always awesome celebrity suite for the Grammys. He has a knack for product introduction, placement, events, and branding opportunities and is credited with starting the celebrity swag bag craze more than a decade ago. And the super nice guy is always helpful with charity events and worthwhile causes.

This year he has created a special holiday gift package for some of Hollywood’s brightest stars who haven’t been too naughty. Among the dozens of folks on his nice list are Jennifer Love Hewitt, Halle Berry, Miley Cyrus, Charlize Theron, Tori Spelling, and Chelsea Handler. They are all set to enjoy Ballroom Dance and Latin Dance for Beginners with Brian Fortuna; Nair Milk & Honey Roll-on; Chocolatines Holiday Collection; Lalo Fitness DVDs; Ceek Jewelry; Fetch for cool pets; Little Miss Muffin dolls; Botanolution all natural skincare products; Sebbag Essentials; Live In Fitness Enterprise retreat packages; and Barefoot Dreams chic throws. According to Lash, those trendy goodies are just some of the things on Santa’s “must-have” list, along with the spirit of the season.