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Aerospace Company Flies High for Nonprofits

Employees who work at the Palmdale operations of Northrop Grumman Corp. honored 22 nonprofits from the Antelope Valley at their annual Holiday Giving event on Dec. 17. The local division of the Falls Church, Va. aerospace giant raised more than $101,000 for the organizations last year, including through old-fashioned bake sales and a “Who’s Your Santa?” contest in which department employees vied to play Santa Claus as a reward for raising the most funds. One recipient of a donation was Antelope Valley Committee on Aging. Brad Berens, executive director of the Lancaster organization that provides meals and case management services to seniors, attended the event and said he was grateful for Northrop’s commitment to a variety of local organizations, including some that are small and often overlooked. “I was ecstatic that (Northrop) consider the needs of the elderly and consider us an organization that’s viable to their well being,” he said. “I appreciate them so much for their sensitivity for everyone that’s in need.” Two other organizations that received donations were Grace Resource Center and Lancaster Community Shelter, both headed by Steve Baker and located about four blocks from each other in Lancaster. Baker began Grace Resource Center 21 years ago with 16 volunteers and a $20,000 donation from a church. In 2011, Baker took over operations of the Community Shelter, and between the two organizations 10,000 people are fed each month. The shelter has 120 beds for people to sleep, and the organizations work together to provide computer training and other life skills courses using the “teach a man to fish” mentality to help people get back on their feet. Both Berens and Baker said that one of the additional perks of the event hosted by Northrop was the ability for community service organizations from the Antelope Valley to get together to catch up and network with one another. Berens said several of the organizations support each other, and he wishes they could get together more than once a year. Baker echoed Berens’ opinion. “We’re all so busy, we don’t get together,” he said. “So that’s kind of a good time to get together.” Baker said that his agency was so busy the day of the event that he was the only one able to attend on the organization’s behalf. He was very grateful for Northrop’s generosity. “I honestly was shocked when I opened the envelope and saw how much money we got,” he said. In total, the Palmdale employees at Northrop raised more than $200,000 during the year, including the amount given away in December, its annual school supply drive, and campaigns for the United Service Organizations and National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Week Getaway The Courtyard Marriott of Camarillo, United Way of Ventura County and Pleasant Valley Lions Club teamed up to provide housing for an area family last month in time for the holidays. The family received a week’s stay at the Courtyard Marriott as well as clothing, toys, and gift cards donated by community members and some of the hotel’s employees. Linda Torres and her six children, ages 3 through 13, enjoyed a stay at the Marriott and were provided with trips to the movies and a bowling alley. Camarillo’s Roadrunner Shuttle supplied free service to Target where the family was able to spend gift card money. Mitchell Crespi, general manager at Courtyard, added a personal touch. He and his family made a holiday meal for the Torres family with turkey, ham and tamales. “It was a special day for them,” said Crespi. “We made their Christmas morning awesome.” When the Torres family checked out of the hotel, they didn’t have to go to a shelter or the streets. With the three organizations’ help, they were able to go to a new home in the region. Juanita Moreno, an elderly woman, also received a week’s stay at the hotel. Antelope Valley Cheer Antelope Valley Hospital donated more than 600 toys to Lancaster area children from the Children’s Center of the Antelope Valley Dec. 17. The hospital hosted a party with treats, raffles, face painting and holiday music that was attended by Santa Claus. Antelope Valley Hospital gathered more toys this holiday season than in previous years, allowing children to receive more than one gift. The hospital’s Chief Executive Edward Mirzabegian said he applauds the generosity of his staff. “We are so pleased to support the Children’s Center and help make the holidays brighter for some of our local children whose families find themselves in need,” he said in a statement. Please send Giving items to golan@sfvbj.com or call (818) 316-3123.

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