Pechanga Resort Casino | Contributed
The holidays came a few weeks early for 400 of the most underserved children and their families from the Inland Empire. Thursday, Dec. 8, hundreds of children from Lake Elsinore, Murrieta, Temecula, Menifee and the surrounding communities were welcomed by special invitation to enjoy a 40,000-square foot winter wonderland-themed holiday extravaganza inside the Pechanga Summit Events Center.
During Pechanga’s sixth “Holiday of Hope” event, the guests of honor enjoyed nine different holiday activities including photos with Santa, watching holiday movies by a fire, enjoying a traditional holiday meal, riding a train, listening to Christmas singers from local high school choirs, playing holiday bingo and more.
They even got to say hello to Los Angeles Lakers Legends AC Green and Robert Horry who were volunteering for the event. Each child and his or her family were identified by the Temecula, Lake Elsinore and Murrieta School Districts as in-need individuals. According to a May 2022 report, there are 3,316 homeless children and adults in Riverside County, up from 2020’s count of 2,884.
“The Holiday of Hope event is something we look forward to hosting each year. So many smiling faces show us the event brightens a lot of people’s lives here in our region,” Andrew Masiel Sr., President of the Pechanga Development Corporation, said. “We understand how important holiday memories are for children as they grow up and how special they can be. The Temecula Valley is our home so to be able to give back and to partner with our local school districts to show these children and families that people are out there who care a lot about their well-being, this is what the holidays are all about.”
Lakers Legend AC Green said, “Every year I come, it’s just fantastic. Just seeing what they’re doing and how Pechanga has done just great in the community. Understanding people, their needs, knowing it’s the season, yes, but all year round. They are always reaching out seeing how they can help and do more. So I always love coming here, and working with them throughout the year.”
Each of the 400 children attending the Holiday of Hope event got to choose his or her very own, age-appropriate gift. Their families were also each given a $100 gift card. Pechanga also provided shuttle service to some of the families who live in Murrieta and Lake Elsinore so they could be sure to get to the Holiday of Hope event.
The kids and families also enjoyed musical performances by the Chaparral and Great Oak high school choirs. The groups generously agreed to donate their time to this event.
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