Christmas in Spring at M.E.N.D. with Universal Studios
Every year, Universal Studios teams up with M.E.N.D. (Meet Each Need with Dignity) to help brighten the spirits of those who are less fortunate by throwing one big party at the M.E.N.D. facility in Pacoima! If you are unfamiliar with M.E.N.D, “they are an organization dedicated to serving the needs of individuals and families who are living in poverty. They provide emergency food bank assistance, clothes, medical care, education and employment programs.” Needless to say, M.E.N.D. is a truly important asset to this community.
This philanthropic event is packed with Universal team members and Universal characters who come out to entertain the families from all over Southern California; bringing a smile to their faces and reminding them there will always be help in their times of need. These small gestures go a long way for those who aren’t as fortunate to visit the Universal theme parks.
It goes without saying that the stars of the event were the familiar Universal characters that roamed around meeting families. Many children flocked to them with open arms and embraced them. It was rather heart warming to see such genuine reactions of happiness from all the kids in attendance.
This picture below is our favorite picture from the event. It sums up why Universal and M.E.N.D. throw an event like this. Bringing joy and happiness to all!
One aspect that I love about Christmas in Spring is that it’s not only about winning prizes or eating food. But it’s also about gaining the tools and resources to help this community succeed. At the Book Corner, families can pick up books to help their children learn how to read and practice their reading as well. It seems small, but books are sometimes at the bottom of the list of necessities.
Food was also served up to families by the smiling Universal team members. Families could sit down and enjoy a free meal with their loved ones. One small detail that might have been over looked, but they even had miniature sized Homer Simpson pink donuts for a desert option.
We had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Danielle, who is the Senior Manager for Community Relations at Universal Studios. She said “The Christmas in Spring event is really a day intended to provide families with just a bunch of fun! Opportunities for them to create memories together, bond and just a day where they can relax.” After spending a couple hours around the event, needless to say that their goal was completely met. I do not recall even seeing one unhappy family! Whether they found themselves dancing to the DJ or enjoying some food together, it was done with such joy.
“Many of these families face challenging circumstance on a day to day basis. We want them to forget about it for today and just enjoy themselves. The entire intent is to bring the elements of our parks to the families in the surrounding neighborhoods.”
We at Theme Park Duo were not raised in these type of conditions or circumstances. We know that we were extremely privileged when it comes to our upbringing. Attending this type of event reminds us how lucky we truly are because not many are as fortunate as us. It’s humbling to see the impact this event has on many of the people in attendance.
“We can all remember what it’s like to be a kid! Being excited to play carnival games or to get your face painted. It creates that warm and fuzzy feeling to see all of the kids enjoy it.”
One thing Danielle mentioned was how she truly believes that positivity is infectious. One good deed can go a long way and can really impact the lives of many people. Regardless of whether that’s a hug from Hello Kitty, holding open a door for someone or helping a neighbor find employment; knowing that these moments can help change a life is incredible and will hopefully inspire people to pay it forward.