By: Laura Zablit
“There are so many really frivolous holiday parties, and this really felt like more of the right way to celebrate the season,” says Eric Armstrong, member of the Emerging Leaders Steering Committee. Last Friday, over 40 United Way Emerging Leaders and friends decked the halls of Balboa High School to host an extremely festive Winter Wonderland party for 50 families struggling to get out of poverty. “Because of United Way’s broad reach and all of the organizations it partners with, they are able to accomplish so much. And I think this was a good example of that,” Eric continues.
With the collaboration of Starbucks, United Way’s Emerging Leaders, and Beacon Center staff, the Winter Wonderland was a distinct success. Hundreds of much-needed gifts were presented to the clients of the OMI/Excelsior Beacon Center, a partner of UWBA’s MatchBridge program. A very affable–if quite young–Santa Claus took photos with families during an evening of food, crafts, and music.
From the moment the volunteers flooded the space to hang lights, assemble Christmas trees, and blow balloons, it was clear this would be no chilly celebration, but rather one of those rare events of genuine warmth and friendliness among a large group of strangers happy to celebrate the season of giving.
Eric is on the Steering Committee of Emerging Leaders. He spent the evening at a craft table, helping guests create snow globe ornaments with their own Polaroid portraits inside. “I feel like I can see the difference that UW makes in the community through experiences like last Friday,” he says, looking back on the Winter Wonderland. “And I enjoy the fellowship of doing it with other young professionals who I wouldn’t otherwise meet.”
A very special thank you to our day-of event sponsors who generously provided activities, dinner, and dessert for our event attendees:
And thank you to all of our amazing volunteers from Starbucks, Fenwick & West, Netbase Solutions, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, PwC, Jones Day, and Equinox.
Missed the event? No problem, join us at our next volunteering opportunity!