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Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023
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Burbank YMCA Isn’t Slowing Down in 90th Year

The Burbank Community YMCA recently celebrated its 90th anniversary, but unlike most nonagenarians it’s had a very busy year. With the holiday season coming to a close, the community center is finishing up one of its key annual fundraisers: a Christmas tree sale it has put on for 55 years. The fundraiser is actually held by the Burbank YMCA Service Club, an independent entity that raises funds for the organization. Last year, the lot sold $150,000 worth of trees and was able to donate about $55,000 to the YMCA. With that money, the YMCA established some new programs and purchased 12 passenger vans to transport children and youth in during activities. “It’s really the repeat customers coming back because we advertise locally,” said Frank Sakata, a YMCA service member and the lot’s coordinator. “We’d like to raise more (than we did last year) but it depends. So far it’s looking good.” The 101 W. Burbank Blvd. lot is stocked with nearly 2,000 trees ranging from 2 feet to 12 feet in height, and $20 to $500 in price. It is open every day from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. until Dec. 24. The YMCA also hosted its fifth annual Turkey Trot on Nov. 27, raising $75,000 in the process. Free food and drinks were provided for the 2,000 attendees who participated in the 5 kilometer and 10 kilometer walks. And that followed the organization’s 90th anniversary gala at the Nickelodeon Animation Studio, 231 W. Olive Ave. The Oct. 9 event included wine, food, dancing – with $30,000 raised by the end of the night. Yvette Herrera, the YMCA director of philanthropy, said that the fundraisers sustain programs and membership services for the 4,000 families who use the YMCA services on a regular basis. “The gala at Nickelodeon was fantastic. We had almost 300 people in the courtyard,” Herrera said. “Unlike a lot of non-profits, we don’t have an annual gala so this was a big deal. Community members, supporters and friends of the Y were in attendance.” Foothill Fundraiser USI of Southern California Insurance Services has led the way in raising $7,500 for the Los Angeles Police Department’s Foothill Division toy giveaway. The Woodland Hills insurance brokerage has been a large contributor to the event for 25 years. This year, 100 employees sold $1,500 in raffle tickets to help fund the giveaway to needy children in the division’s service area. “We wanted to support the police department, especially this year when the police are under a lot of scrutiny,” said Lenelle Duecker, a senior vice president of USI. “Most of the police I think do a pretty darn good job, and this is such a positive way to support them.” A total of $6,000 in donations were raised for the giveaway. Other companies participating included the local offices of Patriot National Insurance, Amlins and Hanover Insurance. Duecker also reached out to several USI clients to see if they’d be interested in contributing. As a result, Imperial Toy of North Hills donated nearly 800 different toys and North Hollywood nail lacquer maker OPI Products donated 300 bottles of polish. Other clients also contributed. “There’s a lot of excitement with this and the officers rely a lot upon the fundraising we do,” said Duecker. “It’s a tradition and has become important for them.” The Foothill Division covers La Tuna Canyon, Lake View Terrace, Pacoima, Shadow Hills, Sun Valley, Sunland and Tujunga. Sharing the Love Talk about a good deed. Kelly Chapman, owner of mac-O-licious, shut down her Valley Village soul food restaurant on Nov. 24 and served a free Thanksgiving meal to more than 60 clients of Los Angeles Family Housing. Chapman, along with four volunteers, served up ham and turkey, her original Southern mac-n-cheese, cornbread, sweet potatoes and other menu items. Her 5217 Laurel Canyon Blvd. restaurant is so small she had to hold two separate dinners, giving away nearly $1,965 worth of free food that day. “The event was beautiful and the families at L.A. Family Housing really enjoyed themselves,” said Chapman, who was presented with a Bible and card from the diners. Jason Lesner, the housing agency’s director of community engagement, thanked Chapman for reaching out to the organization and hosting the meal. “I can’t imagine what the men and women who you generously invited for a holiday meal were thinking. I have to assume they were filled with gratitude and joy,” he said. “You truly created a special day for those who were able to be there, and I hope we can partner on more activities in the future.” Staff reporter Champaign Williams can be reached at (818) 316-3121 or cwilliams@sfvbj.com.

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