Community groups provide opportunities to give back this season

People are often the most generous during the holiday season, with nearly one third of all charitable giving taking place in December. While this month many of us will be donating to our favorite charities, if you’re interested in donating locally, many community groups are making it easy to participate in toy and clothing drives to give back to those in need.

Below are some of the local charity drives taking place in December:

• This month, Runway Playa Vista has designated Safe Place for Youth (SPY), Children’s Hospital of LA and LA Animal Shelters as “Season of Giving” partners. Stop by the shopping center on Friday, December 8 from 5 to 8 p.m. to drop off new or gently used warm clothing for SPY. On Friday, December 15 from 5 to 9 p.m., $1 from every beer purchased during the center’s “Beer & Cheer” event will be donated to Children’s Hospital of LA. On Friday, December 22 from 5 to 8 p.m., visitors can donate gently used or new blankets for the LA Animal Shelter.

Runway Playa Vista is located at 12746 W. Jefferson Blvd. in Playa Vista. For more info, visit facebook.com/RunwayPlayaVista.

• Just a stone’s throw away from Westchester, St. Margaret’s Center is collecting toys for its annual Christmas program. Every year, the center distributes thousands of toys to children in need. Locally, there are two drop off locations. Head to Toe Salon, located at 6310 W. 89th St. in Westchester, is collecting toys through December 10 during regular business hours. Miss Haircut Salon, located at 8733 La Tijera Blvd. in Westchester, is collecting toys through noon on Friday, December 15. Toys can be dropped off Wednesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Interested in donating online? Visit amazon.com, choose “Find a List or Registry,” type in St. Margaret’s Center and browse their wish list. Purchased items will be sent directly to the center. St. Margaret’s Christmas Program will take place on Saturday, December 16 at Lennox Middle School.

For more questions or to arrange a pick-up, please call Terry at (310) 994-9904.

• Councilmember Mike Bonin’s office is collecting items for the Westside Winter Shelter Program. Items needed include toiletries, clothing for men and women, coffee, books, magazines, board games, cleaning items and first aid kits. Items can be dropped off at the CD11 Westchester office, located at 7166 W. Manchester Ave. in Westchester.

• Local nonprofit Sore Feet Saviors is accepting donations for their “Christmas of Hope Celebration” for homeless and low income families they encounter through their Emergency Outreach Program. They offer the following giving opportunities during the holiday season:

  •  Sponsor a child for $99 tax deductible donation
  • Buy a toy from our Wishlist for a child
  • Donate a prepared food item for the holiday meal at their celebration
  • Volunteer to wrap presents and decorate our event space
Learn more at  www.sorefeetsaviors.com.

Holding a toy or collection drive for the holidays? Email us at westchesterhometown@yahoo.com to be added to the list.

Mark your calendars for a month full of holiday happenings for the whole family

It’s the holiday season and that means plenty of free and low cost events to help celebrate the most wonderful time of the year. Westchester/Playa must be on the “nice” list this year, because Santa is stopping all over town to collect Christmas lists, pose for free pictures and spread holiday cheer. Whether you’re interested in fanciful lights, arts & crafts, breakfast with Old St. Nick, or even a chance to have your picture taken in a giant snow globe, local businesses and community groups are making sure there’s no shortage of activities and events to help create a little holiday magic this December. Continue reading

Holiday Recipe Contest

Wow–a lot has happened this year. Many people, including me, feel a bit overwhelmed by all of the natural disasters as well as the man-made, intentional acts of destruction we’ve experienced this year. Though there is no sweeping our sadness under the carpet or ignoring the situations at hand, I do think it’s important that we try to find fun things to celebrate in an attempt to create balance in our lives and maintain optimism. Continue reading

Calling all artists!

Interested in helping beautify the community through art?

We are looking for artists to apply to paint murals on utility boxes in Westchester and Playa del Rey!

Applications are due by Monday, December 18.

Selected artists will be contacted in the new year with painting anticipated to begin in January/February.

Selected artists will receive a fixed stipend for materials. During this first round of the Utility Box Mural Project, approximately 10 designs will be selected to be painted on boxes along major thoroughfares in Westchester and Playa del Rey.

Please email westchesterplayaart@gmail.com for an application with criteria and eligibility requirements.

Westchester Mental Health Guild’s 35th Annual Home Tour provides opportunity to tour area homes for charity

For the members of the Westchester Mental Health Guild, November is an exciting time as they gear up for the Holiday Home Tour. Celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, the annual event gives people the OK to be looky-loos for the day and tour some of the area’s most fabulous homes all for a good cause. Continue reading

Community Profile: Silicon Beach Parents Group looks to bring families together for events and giving back

When Gabrielle D’Addario, an outgoing, energetic mother of two, moved from Playa del Rey to Playa Vista, she was eager to join an organization that would bring together families from all over the area for social events and activities. When she encountered many groups that were specifically for Playa Vista residents only, however, D’Addario got to work creating a community group that would bring families from neighboring communities within the Silicon Beach area, including Playa del Rey, El Segundo, Culver City, Westchester, Venice and Santa Monica, together with families in her new Playa Vista neighborhood. D’Addario approached Playa Vista Community Services, pointing out the potential growth the community could see by interacting more closely with other local neighborhoods through engaging family events. She says Playa Vista was extremely receptive to her vision, allowing her to experiment with different ideas. The result was the creation of the Silicon Beach Parents’ Group (and Facebook page), a community organization designed to unite families in the Silicon Beach area through entertaining events, exchanging of invaluable resources and giving back to community members in need. Continue reading

New education foundation launches to support local schools

Looking to reinforce our community’s support of local schools, a group of parents and business leaders have embarked on a new mission to support all of the schools in Westchester and Playa del Rey.

This week, the group formally announced the formation of the LAX Coastal Education Foundation (LAXCEF), a nonprofit serving all schools in the area, including public, private, parochial, charter and magnet schools. Continue reading

Councilmember Bonin looks to the future of LAX, the Northside and transportation for second term

In the March 7 primary, Councilmember Mike Bonin won re-election with 70% of the vote. His second term representing District 11, which includes Westchester, Playa del Rey and Playa Vista, will start July 1, and the HomeTown News recently reached out to the councilmember to find out what he hopes to accomplish in his next 5 1/2 years representing the community. Below is our Q&A with Councilmember Bonin: Continue reading