The gray skies couldn’t keep Ana Avalas and her family away from Venice Family Clinic’s annual Children’s Holiday Movie.
“I enjoy this event very much,” said Avalas, who attended the event with her daughter and grandchildren, who have been Clinic patients for five years. “I often don’t have time to go to the movies, so to be able to come to the movies with the kids is wonderful.”
An annual tradition at the Clinic, Children’s Holiday Movie invites more than 1,200 pediatric patients and their families to enjoy a private screening of a new feature film, holiday entertainment, and gift bags with books and toys. Now in its 32nd year, this year’s event on December 7, 2019, featured Paramount Pictures’ “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” at the Cinemark 18 and XD Theatres at HHLA (formerly known as the Promenade at Howard Hughes Center) just outside Culver City.
As families left the eight screenings, they were greeted by festively dressed volunteers giving out age-appropriate toys and books to the children. Even VIPs from “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” participated, including Malachi Barton, who plays young Diego, and Germaine Franco, co-composer of the film’s score. Youth actors Connor Dean and Jax Malcolm also delighted the children by handing out toys.
“This is my first time, and it’s really good to be here,” said Edith Garcia, who had her 2 year-old son, Steven, in tow. “I get to spend time with my child.”
As families exited the theater, they were greeted with hands-on activities, including on-demand snow, arts and crafts, and face painting. Even Santa Claus and Dora made appearances so children could take photos with them.
Marlene Martinez volunteered at the crafts table helping kids make holiday cards with paint, glitter, and all kinds of accessories. She recounted how as a child she used to attend Children’s Holiday Movie with her family.
“It was one of the few times all my cousins and I got to be together,” she said. “It’s such a nice event. That’s why I wanted to be here today.”
Edward Alexander, a physician who practices in South Los Angeles at another federally qualified health center, served as a volunteer through the local University of Notre Dame alumni chapter. When asked why he chose to spend his Saturday morning with Venice Family Clinic patients, he replied: “You only have so many years left. What are you going to do: sit at home, or help someone else?”
In addition to providing a fun-filled event, the Clinic honors its youngest patients by raising $150,000 to ensure children and their families have access to all the medical care and community resources they need to lead happy, healthy lives. Because the film, movie theater, entertainment, and toys are donated, all proceeds from Children’s Holiday Movie support the Clinic’s pediatric services and programs, including prenatal health care, car seat safety education, pediatric and dental care, literacy, Children First Early Head Start, and health and nutrition education.
For the 6th year, Anthem Blue Cross was the event’s presenting sponsor.
Our other generous sponsors include Cinemark, HHLA, Paramount, Delta Dental, Health Net of California, The Venice Place, Westmount, 3 Bees & Me, Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, Jakks Pacific, Kids Win Entertainment, Lakeshore, Mattel, Nihon Kohden, Longo Toyota, Molina Healthcare, and Stella Socks.