The grateful mother’s eyes widened as she took in the bounty of Christmas gifts.
“It’s too much,” Lidiaalondra Orosco said of being a recipient of the 10th annual Adopt a Family, a Christmas program run by the Orange County Family Justice Center (OCFJC) and the Orange County Family Justice Center Foundation in Anaheim.
Orosco and her family – daughter Yerandi, 11, and sons Arthur, 8, and Yeicob, 7 – were among 74 families that were treated to Christmas gifts and treats, free books, arts and crafts, and time with Santa at the OCFJC event, held this year on Thursday, Dec. 19.
Every Christmas for the last 10 years, members of the community – many from Anaheim –adopt families who receive services or attend programs at the OCFJC, a multi-agency non-profit run by the Anaheim PD that serves survivors of domestic violence, child abuse, elder/dependent adult abuse, and sexual assault.
Most of the families don’t have the resources to buy each other gifts, and many children come from households that have experienced trauma.
“I love it,” Orosco said of the event. “I’m really excited and happy, and I love all of the activities here for the kids.”
Orosco’s husband, Luis, who works at a family billiards center, was unable to attend. She said the family plans to open the gifts Christmas morning.
Yeicob Orosco participated in the OCFJC’s 10-week program Kids Creating Change at the Boys and Girls Club at Manzanita Park.
“We collaborate with resources centers, churches, apartment complexes, schools, and Boys and Girls Club Center to host these (and other) programs,” said Stephanie Bruschini, program director at the OCFJC.
The Kids Creating Change program tries to help empower youth with the necessary knowledge and skills to break the destructive cycle of abuse. The program covers defining physical and emotional violence, coping with stress, conflict resolution, playground bullying, being a good friend, physical fitness, and effective parenting skills.
“It’s really important for these kids to be able to be in such a positive environment and for them to see that their community and police and fire departments care for them,” said Victoria Johnson, Miss California, who was crowned in January 2019 and serves until Feb. 29, 2020.
Johnson assisted Santa as he posed for pictures with the children.
The 74 families that were adopted this year totaled 319 people. In its first year, Adopt a Family provided Christmas gifts to 30 families. To be considered for adoption, families fill out an application and provide gift wish lists.
Then, generous community members take it from there.
“It’s really a great way to give back to the community, and the police department is fully involved,” said Tracy Theodore, executive director of the OCFJC. “All of the people who adopt families get a chance to meet the families and deliver the gifts to them personally.”
Scott Frisbie, a board member of the OCFJC Foundation, has adopted a family every Christmas for eight years.
“I had a chance to meet the family I adopted, three children and two adults,” said Frisbee, whose family business owns 15 McDonald’s stores, eight in Anaheim and the rest in surrounding cities. Frisbee donated McDonald’s cookies and coffee for the four-hour event.
“There was so much appreciation,” Frisbee said, adding: “I’m a fortunate person. I have two young children (as well as adult children), and they’ve got a wonderful life. Everybody deserves some glimmer of hope or opportunity to have some sense of normalcy in their lives.
“So many of these children are born in situations from which they may never see or experience that, and this event gives a chance for these kids to look up and see what is not always in front of them: sensitivity and caring.”