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2nd Annual Gifts of Love Event 2008
 
Early in the morning of December 6, 2008, over 100 volunteers arrived at South Coast Plaza to prepare for the 250 children that would be attending the day's event. Putting on their pink shirts, preparing for their position and setting up tables... the volunteers were ready to really give these children the Christmas celebration that they've dreamt of.

To locate the children in need, The Happiness Project worked with local shelter directors, school teachers and principals to find the children who need our help most. It took 6 months to invite, gather and inform all of the children about this event.

The Happiness Project was honored to have South Coast Plaza host our 2008 Gifts of Love Event. The holiday scene at South Coast Plaza is unlike anywhere else. This immediately set the tone for an amazing and very celebratory event. Children first checked in and were given their very own "Elf" that would be with them throughout their time with us. The Elves took them to visit with Santa and take a picture with him. Each child was given a 5 x 7 photograph to take home with them. It didn't stop there. Santa told each child that he had a special bag of presents that he put together just for them. Two of Santa's helpers were standing by to give each child their present. (These bags were organized into age and gender and the appropriate bag was pulled depending on the child next in line to visit with Santa.) Some children were so grateful just to be there, they didn't expect to get a large bag filled with presents. Some even looked into the bag to select which item they would like from the bag. When they were told the entire bag was for them, their expression was priceless.

From there the children were invited to ride the carousel and then make a craft at the Craft Corner. Before they left the event, each child was given a treat bag and a bottle of water from the Treats Table. As each group of children left the event, another group was arriving. For 4 hours, every volunteer gave these children everything they had. They made this experience a wonderful party that was thrown in their honor.

The event went better than we could have ever expected. The amount of support we received was incredible. Not only did we have so many amazing volunteers, but we had many Orange County based companies donate clothing, food, shoes and toys to help us pack these gift bags. One corporate sponsor, Carnegie Marketing, donated enough in one day to allow us to double the size of our event. We are eternally grateful for the support. To these children, this was not just another fun day. It was their Christmas Day. Their day to celebrate the holidays and have a great time, just being a kid.
 
We sincerely appreciate your support and love. The Happiness Project could never operate without the generosity of people like you.
 

 

2008-1.jpg, 18kB Craig and Lindsay packing boxes and boxes of presents, the week before the event.

2008-2.jpg, 28kB  

2008-3.jpg, 28kB All ready for the children to arrive!! A HUGE thank you to South Coast Plaza, Sarah Corrigan and Kathy Duong, for hosting this event and donating so many great items for these gift bags!

2008-4.jpg, 17kB STOP 1 - Check-in!

2008-5.jpg, 19kB STOP 2 - Visiting with Santa (and receiving a big bag filled with presents).

2008-6.jpg, 26kB The line for Santa went around the corner!

2008-7.jpg, 27kB STOP 3 - The Carousel. Children of all ages and sizes LOVED riding the famous reindeer carousel!

2008-8.jpg, 28kB  

2008-9.jpg, 18kB Enjoying the carousel...

2008-10.jpg, 16kB STOP 4 - At the Craft Corner, children colored wooden bears.

2008-11.jpg, 33kB There wasn't an empty space in the place!

2008-12.jpg, 18kB  

2008-13.jpg, 25kB STOP 5 - Treats Table. A very friendly crew made sure each child received snacks and water on their way out!

2008-14.jpg, 31kB The children weren't letting go of their bags filled with presents!

2008-15.jpg, 16kB  

2008-16.jpg, 20kB Executive Directors Craig Dickhout and Lindsay Alderson.

2008-17.jpg, 17kB We LOVE all of our volunteers!

2008-18.jpg, 17kB Everyone arrived as the sun was rising, but boy were they ready! These girls came from San Diego and Los Angeles to help!

2008-19.jpg, 22kB Rick and Janie are among The Happiness Project's biggest supporters. We can't thank them enough!!

2008-20.jpg, 32kB Over 100 volunteers showed up to help make these childrens' time incredible!!