Burbank’s Holiday Spirit Soars as 296 Families Receive Coordinating Council’s Aid

Left to right: Burbank City Councilmember Tamala Takahashi and BCC members Ann-Marie Osgood, Bill Barlack, Gabe Ayala, Muskan Lawrence, and Samantha Wick at BCC's ribbon cutting by the Burbank Chamber of Commerce.

The holiday spirit shone brightly in Burbank in 2023, thanks to the remarkable efforts of the Burbank Coordinating Council (BCC) and its Holiday Basket Program. Celebrating a legacy that spans 76 years, the program once again brought joy and relief to numerous families in need during the festive season.

The BCC, a pillar of the Burbank community since 1933, saw its Holiday Basket Program reach new heights in 2023. A total of 296 Burbank families, all seeking assistance with holiday gifts and food, registered for the program, highlighting the ongoing need in the community and the Council’s vital role in addressing it.

Originating in 1946 as a Christmas Program, the initiative has evolved into the Holiday Basket Program. This program is not just a seasonal gesture but a substantial lifeline for financially disadvantaged families in Burbank. It involves distributing gift items, new clothing, blankets, personal items, and bags of non-perishable foods. Moreover, the Council ensures each family receives grocery gift cards for fresh food items, recognizing the importance of choice and dignity in assistance.

The success of the program lies in its community-centric approach. This year, 168 families were personally sponsored by individuals, families, and organizations. The remaining participants were supported through the funds of the BCC. Such widespread involvement underscores the communal spirit and generosity that permeate Burbank.

The coordination and execution of this immense task fell upon the shoulders of a dedicated five-member committee. The team, co-chaired by Anne-Marie Osgood and Samantha Wick, included Gabe Ayala, Bill Barlack, and Muskan Lalwani. Their commitment and hard work were pivotal in the smooth running of the program, a responsibility previously held for many years by Janet Diel and in 2022 by Mary Anne Been.

Anne-Marie Osgood reflected on the year’s achievements with optimism. ‘We’ve gained valuable insights and are committed to elevating our sponsorship rate from 57% this year to our target of 75% next year,’ she stated.

Osgood vividly recalled the program’s peak: “Seeing the bounty of gifts and food prepared as families arrived was profoundly moving.” She added a personal note, expressing how the involvement of her volunteering daughter amplified the warmth of the event. “The outpouring of gratitude from the families has been overwhelming,” she said, reinforcing the profound effect the program has on the community.

The Burbank Coordinating Council’s Holiday Basket Program in 2023 stands as a testament to the power of community solidarity and the impact of collective effort. In a world often marked by challenges and hardships, the Council’s enduring commitment and the Burbank community’s generous spirit keep the essence of the holiday season alive, one basket at a time.

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