Christmas was an especially blessed season at KidWorks . We’re grateful to everyone who lent a hand with time, talent, resources and financial support. Because of you, hundreds of families in central Santa Ana felt an extra measure of love and generosity. We thank God that there were zero COVID-related issues during the holidays.

KidWorks’ Christmas Store

The KidWorks’ Christmas Store has been a treasured tradition for the families we serve for 19 years. For many central Santa Ana families, being able to purchase Christmas gifts is not always financially possible. Their limited funds go to rent and groceries. What makes the store so special for these parents is that it provides a sense of being able to provide for their families.  

They are able to buy gifts donated to KidWorks at a fraction of the actual cost; this provides moms and dads with the self-esteem that comes from actually purchasing gifts, even if at a minimal cost. Each parent had a specific appointment time to shop at the store, which allowed for social distancing and a safe shopping experience. They were able to select from over 600 toys, sporting goods, school supplies, gift cards and other donated items.

The 2021 event took place on Dec. 14 at our Dan Donahue Center. It was such a success that 100% of KidWorks students received at least one gift this Christmas. 

KidWorks thanks all those who made the 2021 Christmas store possible, including: Rainbow Sandals, who provided a pair of flip flops for each student; the KidWorks Fund Development Committee, the KidWorks Women’s Committee, the Young Professionals for KidWorks organization, and the many volunteers who staffed the store. We also thank U.S. Bank branches from across Orange County, the Offield Family Foundation, Spitzer Roche Team—Compass Real Estate, Live Nation, Mariners Church, Irvine; St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, Newport Beach; New Majority, Innovative Results Gym, Orange County Lutheran High School, Red String Foundation, Los Alamitos.

Thanks as well to U.S. Bank employees, who decorated our centers for the holidays. They generously provided Christmas trees, wrapped doors to resemble Christmas packages and placed snowflake decorations in the hallways.


A posada is a traditional Mexican Christmas celebration that occurs during each of the nine nights prior to Christmas day and features the reenactment of Joseph and Mary’s arrival in Bethlehem. For many years KidWorks has held a Posada for the families we serve. This year, our Posada was hosted on Dec. 9 out in the Sports Court at our Dan Donahue Center, which was the perfect outdoor venue to allow for safety and social distancing. The event included food, music, singing, dancing, goody bags for all the children, and other festive traditions. In total, around 200 parents, children and youth attended. We thank these supporters and volunteers who helped out: the Strader Family, St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach and Essex Property Trust.

Preschool Christmas Party/Carnival Celebration

We extend a big KidWorks’ “thank you!” to CBRE’s Newport Beach team for once again fully sponsoring/underwriting our annual Christmas/Carnival Celebration held Dec. 16 for students enrolled in our state-licensed preschool. Thirty-three students attended and enjoyed games, story time, riding a miniature train, jumping for hours in a bounce house and welcoming Santa.

CBRE employees volunteered at the event and donated many hours to set-up and clean-up. Each volunteer interacted with a small group of children. Special thanks to CBRE’s Melissa Ley, who coordinated the event. 

“We would also like to thank our afternoon preschool volunteer, Vicky DeVaney, for providing Christmas gifts to all our 33 preschool students,” says Idalia Galdamez, KidWorks’ preschool director. “When we approach her with the idea she happily said ‘yes!’” 

Adds Idalia, “The children cannot stop talking about the celebration and the gifts they received.  We’re greatly blessed to have such wonderful partners who embrace the spirit of Christmas and support us with our ideas that turn into request and then into real memories to be cherished for life!”

College Apps Academy Party

College Apps Academy is a 25-week program for high school seniors that provides guidance through the college application process, including support with college and financial aid applications, scholarships, admissions essays and tips on how to have a successful transition into college. On Dec. 8, many of the 23 students enrolled in the program enjoyed a COVID-safe, impromptu Christmas party, complete with pizza, games and more. “It was a chance for them to celebrate all the hard work they put in this semester,” says organizer  Brenda Trujillo Sanchez, our College & Career Manager. “We plan to make this an annual KidWorks tradition.”

Year Year-End Appeal

Our year-end appeal is always crucial to ensure KidWorks starts off with strong financial funding for our many programs. Each year, our supporters overwhelm us with their heartfelt generosity, as they did once again during the 2021 year-end campaign. KidWorks’ Board Member Emily Mandrup’s company, ECM Management, provided a generous match donation to encourage people to double their impact to KidWorks.  Hundreds of individuals, families, churches, companies, clubs and others responded and we are grateful for their financial support.  

One of the most encouraging experiences of our year-end fundraising were the notes of thanks we received from donors.  One teen volunteer shared: 

“I volunteered at KidWorks wrapping presents at the Christmas Store.  A lot of the parents that I met really impacted me. They were all so friendly, loving and I could tell that KidWorks parents cared deeply not only for their children, but for the children in their community. I hope my contribution helps to continue to provide services for these families so their students can have a place to learn and grow.”

We were also touched to learn that that Santa Ana-based Rados Companies’ employees donated to KidWorks in lieu of holding a holiday celebration. These meaningful gestures provide a great deal of encouragement to our staff.  

We welcome your financial support throughout the year, and you may see ways to give through this link.

The entire KidWorks team at each of our three centers thanks you for making the holiday season so special for hundreds of families. We wish you all the best in 2022 and in the years ahead.

By Glenn Leibowitz, volunteer writer