For many families and youth in need, December may be a difficult time as they might struggle financially or do not have people in their lives to celebrate the holidays.
However, to help spread holiday cheer and give struggling families and foster youth a day to remember, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, 5th District, welcomed them to an annual holiday party at Six Flags Magic Mountain.
“Well, we are coming out of the pandemic, and it’s great to be back here at Magic Mountain with the foster youth and their families,” Barger said. “We do this every year for our foster youth. If I can help make one day out of the year exciting and make them feel special, that’s what it’s all about.”
Barger hosted the event for youth served by the Department of Children and Family Services and their foster families on Saturday. Barger, along with the Los Angeles County Fire Department, DCFS and other partners provided more than 500 youth and families with lunch, photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, crafts, books, and toys from ABC 7’s Spark of Love Toy Drive.
Six Flags also gave attendees free admission to the theme park for a fun day.
“Each year, our holiday celebration shows youth living in foster care and their families that we care about making their season a little merrier,” Barger said in a prepared statement. “Thanks to the collaboration of so many committed and generous community partners, we can provide this special day at no cost to families, so they can make lasting memories together.”
Frank Ramos, deputy director of DCFS, said they’ve partnered with this event for at least 19 years. DCFS social work staff and other members volunteer every year because it’s an important event for families and youth, he added.
“It’s a great example of the community coming together, especially with Supervisor Barger’s leadership in helping our families have a good day,” Ramos said.
DCFS assesses and investigates child abuse and neglect, Ramos said. There are 10 million people in Los Angeles County alone and the department works with law enforcement and others to ensure the safety of children, he added.
“We also work with older youth as well,” Ramos said. “We provide services to non-minor dependents. These are youth that are between the ages of 18 and 21. Our job is to keep children safe, period.”
The holiday party is a way to create positive memories for struggling families and foster youth, and there’s a community who want to support them, Ramos added.
Anthony Marrone, interim fire chief of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, said they’ve collected more than 9 million toys and sports equipment for the last 29 years to give back to the community. In recent years, the Fire Department partnered with Six Flags.
Chad Sourbeer, a battalion chief and public information officer for the Fire Department, added they donated 800 toys for families and youth to take home.
“It’s really Supervisor Barger’s party, and under that umbrella, we’re all working together to get those toys out to the community,” Sourbeer said. “We need to thank the community for making this happen. To make this happen, we need those donations.”