Giving back this holiday season

Nov 3, 2023

As our thoughts turn to the holidays, it’s also time to give back! Check out these local ways to spread kindness and cheer to others in time for Thanksgiving!

Join the Clean Up Westchester Crew

Grant Francis leads the Clean Up Westchester crew and their efforts to pick up trash twice a month.

Helping beautify your community is a great way to show your neighborhood pride and give back!

Since 2021, a group of passionate volunteers, led by Westchester resident, Grant Francis, have donned yellow T-shirts and gone to work picking up trash along local streets. In just over two years, the Clean Up Westchester crew has grown into a mighty and dedicated team with the vision to make 90045 cleaner and more visually appealing; and engage neighbors to connect and collaborate on projects that better the community.

The group meets twice a month at a Westchester locale that needs some TLC, and volunteers are collecting an average of 25 bags of debris per outing! The group welcomes everyone to join in on the efforts, including families, community groups and students looking for service hours. On November 4, volunteers are needed to beautify Manchester and Ramsgate, and on November 18, the neighborhood is coming together to make a positive impact on Sepulveda and Manchester. Get involved at

Register your home for the Holidays Lights Tour & Contest

Jon Vanderjagt poses in front of his home that has wowed crowds and won accolades during the Holidays Lights Tour & Contest.

Love decorating your home for the holidays? The Westchester Mental Health Guild is looking for local residents interested in participating in their Fourth Annual Holiday Lights Tour & Contest! Get your bulbs, bows and inflatable Santas ready and help raise money for mental health at the same time!

Homes that participate in the festivities will have their location shared on a map and voting ballot. Registered tour-goers will then have the chance to go on a self-guided tour of the neighborhood and vote for their favorite homes! Prizes worth hundreds of dollars, not to mention bragging rights, will be awarded to the community’s top choices.  Learn more and register at

Donate to the PdR Toy & Animal Shelter Drive

Community members pose at Triangle Park during last year’s toy drive. Photo by Zsuzsi Steiner.

Playa del Rey business owners, Jane St. John and Felicia St. Denis, are teaming up this month for their 20th Annual Toy & Animal Shelter Drive!

Donations of toys (new, unwrapped) for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and animal shelter supplies (treats, toys, beds, etc.) can be dropped-off at Triangle Park (Waterview and Trask) in PdR on December 2 from 9 a.m. to noon. After you deliver the gifts, stick around to enjoy a cup of coffee and chat with your neighbors!

Those that can’t make it to the event are welcome to drop-off their donations at Flowers by Felicia during regular business hours through the end of the month. The shop is located at 200 Culver Blvd. in Playa del Rey.

Contribute to a local donation drive for the holidays

Westchester/Playa residents are busy hosting a variety of clothing, food and donation drives this month to help ensure those in need have a cheerful holiday season.

Check out these causes benefitting:

• youths in the L.A. foster care system and the Shelter Care Program. Volunteers are collecting new clothing, shoes, outer wear, toiletries and hair care items.

Each year, Norma Jean Lingard leads donation drives for youths in the L.A. foster care system.  She partners with the Shelter Care Program at the Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Courthouse, which provides supervision for unaccompanied children when they are at the courthouse for hearings. Before the holiday season, she collects new clothing, shoes and outer wear, toiletries and hair care items, as well as comfort items such as small blankets.  The Shelter Care Program arranges for bulk pick-up of donations, and distributes them. 

This year, Debra Kray and Katalin Czukor are helping Norma Jean to collect donations and coordinate with the program for pick-ups. Debra says Westchester and the surrounding communities have been very generous with their support in the past, and they hope to be able to continue this worthy tradition. 

For more info on donating, email Regular updates will also be made through NextDoor during the holiday season. 

• survivors of human trafficking. Rotarians are collecting gifts for their “Adopt a Survivor” program and have put together an Amazon wishlist with items ranging from $10-$50. Get more info by visiting

• the St. Margaret’s Christmas Program. The event is back in person this year, and organizers are looking for donations to fund entertainment, meals, grocery gift cards and toys for approximately 1,000 children from low-income families.

You can also purchase toys via their Amazon wish list that will be sent directly to the nonprofit. Volunteers are needed as well. Learn more at:

Find a cause you love and support your local nonprofit

Westchester/Playa is home to many nonprofits that will be participating in Giving Tuesday campaigns on November 28. Find a local cause that’s near to your heart and consider donating your time, talent or treasure this month! Following your fave nonprofits on Facebook is a great way to stay up-to-date with their philanthropic endeavors and to learn about upcoming service opportunities.

Some of our favorite local nonprofits include:

Airport Marina Counseling Service (mental health)

LAX Coastal Education Foundation (education)

Grassroots Neighbors (food insecurity)

Westchester Family YMCA (community services and healthy lifestyles)

Westside Pacific Villages (seniors)

Westchester Mental Health Guild (mental health)

Friends of the Ballona Wetlands (environment)

Westchester Rotary Club (community services)

Playa Venice Sunrise Rotary Club (community services)

Give to the Bag-It-Up Campaign

Food Pantry LAX, which was founded by the Westchester/Ladera Clergy Association in 1985, is hosting its annual Christmas Bag-It-Up campaign. Organizers are asking for the community’s support to make it a success.

The goal of the donation drive is to provide pantry clients with extra large bags of groceries to make their holidays a little sweeter.

Those interested in contributing can visit and view a menu of recommended items.

Food donations should be put in a sturdy bag and dropped at a local participating church or delivered to the pantry when it’s open on Tuesdays and Fridays between 8 a.m. and noon.

Food Pantry LAX is located at 355 East Beach Ave. in Inglewood.

Support a Community Service Learning Project benefitting Deaf Latinos y Familias

WISH Academy High School 10th grader, Joseph Hood, is partnering with his high school and nonprofit Deaf Latinos y Familias for their annual holiday event. The nonprofit organization serves deaf, hard of hearing, and special needs children in the Los Angeles area. Joseph is currently a second year honors ASL student.

He is currenting collecting unwrapped toys for children, gift cards for teens, and nonperishable food for families for a Holiday Toy Drive.

Locally, donation boxes are located at:

•WISH Academy High School

•WISH Middle School

•WISH Elementary School

•Hollyway Cleaners Playa Vista

Is your group or nonprofit holding a donation drive this month? Email us the details by clicking HERE.

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