Local outreach ministry holds annual Christmas party for children

Officer Mike Lassig of the California Highway Patrol talks with boys and girls about safety at the annual Angel Tree Christmas Party thrown by Community Outreach Ministry. Courtesy photo
Officer Mike Lassig of the California Highway Patrol talks with boys and girls about safety at the annual Angel Tree Christmas Party thrown by Community Outreach Ministry. Courtesy photo

WILDOMAR – As part of its annual series of festive, charitable events for children, the Community Outreach Ministry will hold its 16th annual Angel Tree Christmas Party Sunday, Dec. 11, at the Elks Lodge No. 2591 in Wildomar.

Approximately 200 children of incarcerated parents have been adopted and invited by invitation to attend this year’s party. Of the 200 Angel Tree boys and girls “adopted” last year, about 80 children were from nine schools in Murrieta Valley Unified School District, and 120 boys and girls were from 20 schools in the Lake Elsinore Unified School District. Community Outreach Ministry is grateful to the Elks for partnering with them on this joyous occasion.

The annual Christmas party opens up a world of opportunities for the children, who will participate in live presentations by numerous area officials including Cal Fire firefighter Kevin Ferris and his team of firefighters, in addition to a holiday meal and gifts donated by local benefactors and businesses. The firefighters, who are responsible for serving the U.S. Forest Service, will bring their Bear Creek Station’s fire truck to Murrieta. Cops for Kids’ Executive Director Dave Fontneau and the Lake Elsinore Sheriff Station Explorers will be setting up, tearing down, serving lunch and assisting with gifts. The Temecula California Highway Patrol has also been invited to participate again this year.

The firefighters and officers will perform demonstrations and presentations for the children to teach safety and fire and disaster prevention skills. The children will have the opportunity to ask questions and speak directly to these men and women which has proven over the years to help build children’s self-esteem and social skills. The presentations also provide vital educational tools as seeds are planted in hopes of them becoming future explorers or seeking careers as firefighters or law enforcement officers. These role models serve as mentors, providing validation to the children as important members of society. The lessons learned during the party help empower the youths to be more resilient and to grow by feeling embraced by their community.

Inside the Elks banquet hall, every child will have a seat at the table to enjoy a hot meal catered by Steve Bearse of New Life Culinary Creations of Wildomar. Gifts of clothes and fun toys are provided by sponsors who receive the children’s wish lists on an Angel Tree tag before the party. Children of incarcerated parents have benefited for over nearly 20 years through this program, and the results have been immense. Angel Tree children become high school and college graduates, and in many cases they acquire a skill to be self-sustaining.

The Community Outreach Ministry, its partners, sponsors, volunteers, media and the chambers of commerce are helping to break the cycle of incarceration through its many programs and events, giving kids a second chance to become strong members of the community, according to ministry officials.

Community Outreach Ministry would like to thank Jonay Cordeiro especially. The Wells Fargo branch manager in Lake Elsinore held a gift basket fundraiser with colleagues and donated a check for $761 to the event. The proceeds will be used toward all activities for children held by Community Outreach Ministry. Cordeiro and team have also volunteered to register children at the party. Wells Fargo’s members are happy to make a positive impact by investing in the communities where they live and work through their Community Support Campaign. 

For more information on how to become a partner, sponsor or volunteer, contact Community Outreach Ministry at (951) 698-7650 or email [email protected]. 

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