By: Dolores Quintana
Universal Studios’ 16th annual DAY OF GIVING event was held on Wednesday, November 10, near the entrance of the famed theme park and studio. Nearly 300 unhoused school children were brought to the park by Operation School Bell, which is a non-profit service of the Assistance League of Los Angeles with volunteers from the Anne Banning Auxiliary (or ABA), that provides at-risk school children with new clothes and shoes throughout the school year, along with 100 employee volunteers from Universal Studios.
The children are given a variety of school supplies and clothing, with items such as tennis shoes, jackets, uniforms, backpacks, toys, and books available for the children to select what they would like and take home. The children are then given admission to the Universal Studios Theme Park, where they can experience such rides and shows like the new “Secret Life of Pets: Off The Leash,” and favorites like “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” as well as get a lesson on the world of filmmaking on the historic Universal Studios Tour.
The DAY OF GIVING is a tradition that is also a way for Universal Studios employees to connect with local organizations that work to better the community for everyone. Many of these organizations are recipients of Universal’s philanthropic organization Discover A Star Foundation, in its mission to “empower individuals and families to lead more productive and fulfilling lives.” This day-long event will also lend support to a number of other non-profit organizations in Los Angeles, like Covenant House, MEND Food Bank, Project Angel Food, and The Foster Children’s Resource Center.
I was able to interview Danielle Prado, the main employee coordinator of the event, for a few moments.
DQ: What capacity are you working in here today at the event?
DP: I will be working throughout the morning to supervise distribution of the school supplies and clothes to 280 children from LAUSD's Homeless Education Program. They’ll get new clothes, shoes, uniforms, jackets and books. Once they collect those items, then they’ll be able to enjoy an afternoon in the park. We hope this will be a fun day for them. Obviously, it's been a challenging year and a half, but hopefully this gives them a break, and lets them enjoy time in the park this afternoon.
DQ: Did you hold the event last year or was it canceled?
DP: No, we didn’t do the event last year. We did do a DAY OF GIVING remotely, with note-writing cards for senior citizens, and things like that, but we are very excited to bring the event back in person this year.
DQ: What do you hope to achieve with the program?
DP: The goal is to give these kids a special treat, because, in addition to living through the pandemic, they face hard circumstances in their living situations. So it's really to give them a break from school for part of the day, and to show them a fun time.
DQ: Thank you very much!
The DAY OF GIVING has some admirable goals and seems to be making a difference in the lives of unhoused children and the lives of employees to encourage them to engage in service to the community which, in the end, helps everyone. For Creepy Kingdom readers, I can reveal the most popular book at the event was My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish, so kids definitely love horror - and that’s great.