East County Living Transitional Center throws Christmas party for homeless children

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It’s been said, “The light in a child’s eyes is all it takes to make Christmas a magical time of the year.” Such was the case for the 73 kids attending the Christmas Party for the Homeless on Dec. 17 at the East County Living Transitional Center in El Cajon.

It’s been said, “The light in a child’s eyes is all it takes to make Christmas a magical time of the year.” Such was the case for the 73 kids attending the Christmas Party for the Homeless on Dec. 17 at the East County Living Transitional Center in El Cajon.

Harold Brown, C.E.O, of the East County Transitional Living Center said, ”We have 73 children from the program that will be receiving gifts. We have three wise men of our city. El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells, Deacon Keith Esshaki with St. Peter Chaldean Catholic Cathedral, and El Cajon Police Chief Jeff Davis greeting the kids. We have the San Diego County Federation of Women’s Club serving cake and ice cream.”

The E.C.T.L. Center is a faith based 501(C) 3 non-profit organization whose goal is to guide homeless individuals and families into becoming self-sustaining, productive citizens of our society as they describe themselves in their literature. Volunteer Mary Moran estimated the total attendance at 90.

Jo Medina-Alegria, on the board of directors for the Cajon Valley School District, was one of the singers said, “This is an annual event that I come to.  I miss it if I don’t get to attend.” 

Kendal Bortisser, public information officer for Cal Fire-San Diego Unit/San Diego County Fire, said, “We had a blanket and sheet drive and have three, huge boxes to share. This is a wonderful event.” On hand were fire fighters to hand out those gifts and more from area churches.

Harold Brown added that its facility has religious and non-religious events for its families and children in their transitional living programs.

The three wise men all shared stories with the children about gifts, the story of King Herod, and the story of baby Jesus. Afterwards the three wise men took a very modern selfie of themselves with the kids in the background.

The kids were handed the lyrics, for a sing-a-long for “We Three Kings,” “Go Tell it on the Mountain,” “Joy to the World,” “Silent Night,” and “We wish you a Merry Christmas.”

Receipt of checks from Knights of Columbus, Monterrey Provision Company, and Dr. Noori Barka were acknowledged earlier in the program.

Also on hand from Senator Joel Anderson’s office was Andrew Hayes and Rita Sporleder from Congressman Duncan Hunter’s office as well as Lakeside Chamber of Commerce and East County Chamber of Commerce staff. Jim Garlow, senior pastor at Skyline Church, shared a short message with the families before the presents were distributed to the kids by CalFire fire fighters.

Donna Manley, grandmother to 3-month-old Loralei Manley and dressed in a Santa outfit, briefly took the baby Jesus’ spot in the manger when members of the audience played different parts. Manley’s daughter is a program participant. Manley said Loralei “has been really good other than a diaper change. Lorelei really liked when the kings came in with their crowns.”

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