On Saturday, Dec. 11, the Burbank Coordinating Council distributed their annual holiday baskets to the community with a morning drive-thru event in the parking lot of the Joslyn Adult Center.
For over 80 years, the organization has combined their resources with the generous contributions of locals to give back to underprivileged Burbank families during the holiday season. The BCC pairs sponsors with families who are in need of items such as food, holiday gifts or school supplies, and the families then explain to their sponsors what items they most urgently require. The donors will gather gifts in a basket, which is delivered to the family they are sponsoring as the holidays draw near.
Members of the BCC simultaneously provide their own basket donations to local families on behalf of the organization. BCC President Mary Anne Been and Holiday Basket Chair Hilde Garcia together lead the charitable effort to help needy families. This year alone, the BCC independently provided a total of 150 holiday baskets to residents. At minimum, each sponsor of the giveaway supplied families with a comparable amount of gifts as the BCC prepared in their holiday baskets.
The BCC Holiday Basket Program underwent a few changes this year in order to make their services as efficient as possible. All applications, as well as sign-ups for sponsors and volunteers, were accepted online only to speed up the process of pairing a family with a sponsor. All families who applied for basket donations were also vetted to confirm their financial need status. In addition, the bags previously given out to carry the holiday baskets were replaced with bags from Ikea, as the furniture provider offered 1,500 brand new tote bags for the BCC to distribute to sponsors.
“After the families receive their basket, now they have a reusable bag or two to use,… so it’s an added bonus,” Been said. “It was super generous of Ikea, and we have bags to last us at least two years, which is really nice.”
A group of volunteers help with preparing the BCC’s holiday baskets every year, which exposes residents to the rewarding feelings that come with experiencing the organization’s philanthropic endeavors. Numerous volunteers this year expressed their desire to continue giving back to their community after their positive memories with the BCC.
“Everyone was happy and excited,…playing music and laughing,” Been said of holiday gift basket volunteers. “Many of them told us how fulfilling it was, and how they hadn’t done the holiday basket side of the volunteer work before. They want to come back and they want to join BCC, and maybe want to sit on a committee next year. It’s been really good for us as a nonprofit.”
The program this year included donations from over 100 participants, including representatives of Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, who sponsored a total of 25 disadvantaged families. Some gifts that were presented by the hospital include a laptop for a child attending school, a bike for another young recipient, and financial assistance to cover the expenses of a teenager’s high school prom.
“St. Joe’s has always worked with us for holiday baskets, but I don’t think they’ve sponsored donations the way they did this year with us before, so that was pretty special,” Been said.
Other local groups who participate in the event as sponsors include the Kiwanis Club of Burbank, the Toluca Lake Lions Club, and various churches and schools.
As this is Been’s first year as BCC President, she says the opportunity to guide this mission of giving back to local families in a unique, heartfelt way has been a very fulfilling one for her and other contributors to the event.
“It’s just been a very magical, special year this year,” Been said. “We’re working on special requests, …we have amazing volunteers, and we have amazing donors and sponsors who have come in.”
To learn more about the Burbank Coordinating Council, visit their site here.