LOS ANGELES, CA : The Spirit of Christmas came early this year! On Sunday, December 16th, HeartFelt held a Christmas celebration for children and families in need. The event was held in the enclosed outdoor parking lot at Pastor Benny Herrera’s Christian Fellowship church in East LA. HeartFelt returned to work with Pastor Benny again after the joyousness of last year’s Christmas event with him and the children of East LA.
Through his work, Pastor Benny has a very good pulse on who in his community are in the greatest need. The kind and generous gifts from our MSIA family enabled us to invite 300 of the most in need children and their families.
Our MSIA family helped pull this event together in all aspects. MSIAers from all over the world donated funds to make this event possible! Tim Fiocchi and Myrtle Sutphin from DC even mailed us two packages of several dozen toys! A minister who always has Christmas and giving in her heart, Rita Van Fossan, generously donated a lot of her time to help purchase toys, food, drinks, and treats for the event. Ministers Julie Allgood and Larry Quimby lovingly assisted in sorting and organizing all the gifts the week before the event.
On the day of the event, Prana’s very own kitchen staff Elizabeth Spanton and Ned O’Neill were up early preparing about 350 hot dogs. Ned came along with a loving heart to the event to serve the hotdogs to children and families (a HUGE HIT!) and package the extras up for the families to take home.
Ned O’Neill, Prana’s very own sous chef & HeartFelt Hot Dog Elf
When we arrived in East LA we had an amazing team of HeartFelt Elves to help decorate the place and pass out toys during the event: Vanessa Zhogbi (MSIA staff) came to volunteer to take pictures during the event, Leslie Boyer (minister) along with her bilingual nephew Tucker Fortson, Larry Quimby (minister & yearly HeartFelt Elf), Monika Zands (MSIA discourse subscriber) brought her wonderful multi-lingual children Avery (15), Melia (13) and Zoe (6) as well as friends Celeste Richmond, Blaine Strong and Karla Nuno, and many more new friends who stopped by!
Right before the event began, there was a huge crowd of children and their families lined up buzzing with excitement. As soon as we opened the gate to let them in the children shrieked with joy and ran straight to the present line. As they were each handed a present they beamed with happiness. Then they turned around and the biggest surprise of the day was right there waiting for them – SANTA! Kids lined up eagerly to sit on Santa’s lap and take a picture with him.
The families then loaded up on the delicious hot dogs and cookies, popcorn and drinks. As they sat down to eat, many of the children began to share their exciting new gifts with each other. The children laughed, played and the families just beamed. For many of the children at the event, this may be their only Christmas gift. And, the food was enthusiastically devoured!!
Thanks to our MSIA family’s generous donations, we were able to give every child that showed up a present and even were able to give Pastor Benny more than 50 toys to take to the children he ministers to in Encinata, Mexico. Pastor Benny runs a soup kitchen there where very poor children can get two free meals a day – a lot of the time the only place they get fed. Pastor Benny said the children there will be thrilled to receive a Christmas present! And we were also able to put together and send many extra special Christmas packages to the Maryvale foster children!
With overflowing love and gratitude in my heart, thank you all for making this HeartFelt Christmas event possible and such a joyous experience for everyone involved. God bless us all, Merry Christmas and have a blessed New Year! ❤️