It was a wintery wonderland Monday in Southern California, at least on one corner in Whittier, when real snow was trucked into the Sheriff’s Training and Regional Services Center for the 999 for Kids Program holiday event.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services created the 999 for Kids Program 29 years ago. The mission: Assist severely disabled and abused children who were victims of the most severe cases of child abuse, neglect and domestic violence. For the last 29 years, children participating in the 999 for Kids program have been treated to a holiday party where they can find joy in a safe environment particularly designed for their happiness and which accommodates any of their special needs. At the makeshift North Pole village, the children receive toys, are treated to a meal from McDonald’s fast food restaurants, and participate in entertainment activities including train rides, inflatable jumpers and face-painting.
This year’s holiday event took place on Sunday, December 6, 2015, at the Sheriff’s Training and Regional Services (STARS) Center in Whittier. The facility grounds were wondrously transformed into a glistening and glittery yuletide hamlet, where around 950 participating children arrived and were warmly greeted by sworn and professional staff members of the Sheriff’s Department. The kiddies got to play in the snow, which many of them had never seen or touched before; they visited Santa’s toy workshop, made personalized holiday crafts, rode a merry-go-round, and got their pictures taken with Santa Claus.
Student volunteers from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) partnered in the event and provided greatly-appreciated donations of clothing, accessories, school supplies, and books to each participating family. The brand-new, unused fashion articles and sundries were originally received by the FIDM Scholarship Foundation’s store, located in downtown Los Angeles, as donations from retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers, and showrooms. The merchandise is sold at the Scholarship Store at below wholesale prices and sales proceeds generate
scholarships for current FIDM students. Approximately 25% of the merchandise is not sold, but designated as donations to local families in need, including the 999 for Kids Program.
Sheriff Jim McDonnell, who also participated in the snow day, said, “This longstanding event put on through a partnership between the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services provides a phenomenal opportunity for the these kids to experience the holiday spirit. I am so proud our Department is part of this collaboration which is not only able to provide these great kids and their families with gifts of clothing, toys and food, but with some happy memories of all the fun at today’s event. It’s been a wonderful day and seeing the kids smile was a highlight of the season.”
Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services Director Philip L. Browning also attended the celebration and said, “Since 1985, the Sheriff’s Department and DCFS have partnered to make the holidays magical for our disabled and abused children. We are indebted to the many deputies who fundraise throughout the year to provide wheelchairs, special toys for the medically-fragile, computers, and therapeutic services for our most vulnerable youth.”
The 999 for Kids program was created in 1985 through a joint effort of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the County’s Department of Children and Family Services. The two county agencies began working together after they recognized a need to help physically and mentally challenged children who are medically vulnerable or are victims of the most severe cases of child abuse, neglect and family violence.
The program raises money to purchase special items and services for these children, including sport wheelchairs, computers, special education classes, and medically-oriented toys and games. The funds send children to summer camps for the deaf, blind and those with other medical issues who would not otherwise have such positive experiences.
Identifying children’s needs and meeting them — that’s the goal of 999 for Kids.
To read more about the good things 999 for Kids does, please navigate our website at: http://sheriffsyouthfoundation.org/programs/999-for-kids/
For Information about the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, visit our website at www.lasd.org
To learn more about the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, click: http://dcfs.co.la.ca.us/index.html
The FIDM Scholarship Foundation was established in 1978 with the express mission of helping students and their families meet the challenges of financing a college education. The FIDM Scholarship Foundation, Inc., established in 1978, is a non-profit organization under section 501(c)(3). For more information, please visit their website at: http://fidmscholarshipfoundation.org/