Jeff Burum Inland Valley Daily Bulletin: December 2012
When the village it takes to raise a child comes together, the results are as lasting as they are remarkable – inspiring new villages from vacant dreams.
For the past five years, businesses, law enforcement, community volunteers and celebrities have gathered at the Colonies Crossroads shopping center in Upland to provide Christmas gifts, holiday meals and, above all, an invaluable life lesson, to underprivileged and at-risk children.
This year’s Holiday Miracles event, on Dec. 15, served 189 deserving children, each of whom was treated to a $200 shopping spree. For many of them, this was shaping up to be a year without Christmas, and to see their faces light up with joy was an amazing experience for the hundreds of volunteers who came together that chilly morning.
One of the more heart-warming, if not heart-breaking, smiles was courtesy of 8-year-old Raylene Enriquez, who is undergoing treatment for brain cancer.
“It’s been really tough because of everything we’ve been going through, so this means a lot,” her father, Johnny, told us after his daughter emerged from Dick’s Sporting Goods with a brand new pair of pink roller skates.
Therein lies the life lesson – the importance of giving, of paying back, of paying it forward.
NBA Hall of Famer James Worthy, one of the celebrities on hand this year, perhaps put it best when he addressed the children, their families and volunteers. “Whatever your success is, your No. 1 responsibility is to give back,” he told them. “Holiday is everyday. Doing something kind is everyday. Helping your neighbor is everyday.”
In the years ahead, we intend to build on this event, helping even more kids and families each year. I applaud those police departments in our region that sponsor “Shop With A Cop” programs, and encourage other business leaders, other shopping centers, other communities to come together as this one did.
In the meantime, I want to thank those volunteers who have made the Colonies’ Holiday Miracles one of the highlights of my life. Many have come back year after year – not for the recognition, not even for a “thank you,” but because it is the right thing to do. Because there are so many of them – literally hundreds – it’s impossible to single them all out.
Suffice it to say, they’re all – each and every one of them – miracle workers.
I would like to thank my partners at Colonies and our Newport Beach-based Pacific Development Group, which donated the shopping sprees. Kohl’s Department Store and Dick’s Sporting Goods each offered deep discounts to stretch the $200 each child received even further.
Albertson’s went the extra mile to provide turkey dinners for each of the participating families.
I’d like to thank, as well, the Upland Police and Fire departments, who have been part of the Holiday Miracles since the start, as well as our nonprofit partners, including National Community Renaissance, Upland Unified School District’s Healthy Start Program, the Children’s Fund, Pacific Lifelines, House of Ruth, Foothill Family Shelter, OPARC, Children’s Hope and the Upland Housing Authority.
Special thanks, too, to this year’s special guests: James Worthy, NFL Hall of Famers Eric Dickerson and Marshall Faulk, and U.S. Rep. Gary Miller.
These wonderful people made Christmas dreams come true, and showed us all the value ofgiving back.
Jeff Burum is a partner in Colonies Partners.