Celebrating the Holidays at Winter Family Festival

December 16, 2019
Ryan Imondi

On Saturday, Children’s Institute hosted the 25th Annual Winter Family Festival for hundreds of children and families at our Otis Booth Campus in Echo Park. The day featured holiday entertainment including a petting zoo, holiday arts & crafts and toy giveaways.

Children and families who attend Winter Family Festival are served at CII through services including preschool, counseling, parenting classes and more. The event is an opportunity for families to celebrate the holidays together and ensures kids who Santa might miss receive a toy.

Soleil Delgadillo, Volunteer & Community Engagement Manager at CII, said this event is extra special because it is representative of all CII programs where everyone works together to create a memorable experience for families.

“This event means a lot to our staff and families because we are making sure people feel supported and appreciated during this time of year,” she said. “We want our clients to know that we are providing more than just services. We are creating spaces where they can enjoy being families.”

Families bonded while they enjoyed lunch, decorated gingerbread cookies and designed holiday cards. The Grinch made a special appearance and Cali 93.9 played festival music as kids posed for photos with host Jessica Flores.

While the petting zoo and face painting were fan favorites, the biggest excitement came during the gift giveaways where LA-based toy company Spin Master gave out science kits and robotic dogs. Loyola Marymount University contributed more than 2,000 books and Grammy-nominated musician Billie Eilish donated signed merchandise for teens.

Winter Family Festival volunteers Channing Chantell and Matthew Duckworth helped distribute toys during the event. While distributing more than a thousand toys could get overwhelming at points, the two said there was so much joy and happiness from children and families.

“It’s been great to just see the smiles on their faces when they come up and pick a toy,” Duckworth said. “Being able to giving back is the true meaning of this time of year.”

The quality time at Winter Family Festival applied to staff as well. Dalila Rodriguez Alegria, Director of Education at CII, said the event gave CII staff the opportunity to connect with families outside of preschool or clinical settings to form stronger relationships.

“For me, this event shows a sense of community versus the day to day work we do in our classrooms,” she said. “The whole family is here and we get to see brothers, sisters and parents enjoying their time as one big group.”

Terry, a parent enrolled in CII’s Project Fatherhood program, attended Winter Family Festival with his children Kesai, age 12, Ky, 9, Kayja 6, Kahlil, 3 and Kaleena, 2. As the kids waited in line for the petting zoo, Terry said he looks forward to Winter Family Festival and getting to do everything together as a family.

“These are the memories we want as parents,” he said. “We appreciate everyone giving back and creating all of these activities where my kids get to enjoy the holidays.”

A special thank you to our volunteers and sponsors for supporting the Winter Family Festival: Baby2Baby, Billie Eilish, Bloomingdale’s, Boy Scouts of America, California Credit Union, California Medical Pharmacy, Freya Zhou Group, HCVT, LA Works, Loyola Marymount University, Loyola High School, Les Amies, MyWish4U, Spin Master, Thrive Causemetics, UCLA Latino Alumni Association and Young Storytellers.

See more event photos here.