Burbank Coordinating Council

Loading up their truck to make a holiday basket delivery are, from left, Emmalee Trotta, Tony McCalmont, Rick Trotta, Sophie Hawkins and Kerry McCalmont. (Courtesy photo / December 25, 2012)

Yesterday, thousands of families throughout Burbank joined millions upon millions around the world in celebrating Christmas by opening gifts and enjoying a special meal with those they love. For 537 Burbank families that may not have happened were it not for the care, compassion and hard work of the men and women of the Burbank Coordinating Council (BCC) and their legion of volunteers.

Since its establishment in 1933, the BCC has tapped the resources of local businesses, schools, PTAs, churches, nonprofit agencies, service organizations and individuals to help families in need. In 1946, working in conjunction with the Bureau of Public Assistance, the BCC launched their Christmas Basket Program (now known as the Holiday Basket Program) to provide food, toys and even Christmas trees to low-income families with school-age children.

Conducting food drives at markets that begin in the summer, the organization then matches up needy families with individuals and organizations that adopt families and provide additional food items, gift certificates and toys.

As she has done for many years, Janet Diel once again took the lead overseeing hundreds of basket-delivering volunteers who were dispatched from the campus of Washington Elementary School on Dec. 15. Among those who served as the delivering Santas were Mayor Dave Golonski, his wife, Barbara, and son, John and former Mayor Bob Kramer.

Others who gave of themselves to brighten the day for others included Shantell Ortiz, Emily Webber, Kat Cox, Ilya Mindlin, Jason Diel, Chris Rushing, Robert Vincent, Janice and Brian Lowers, Leslie Muralles, Jennifer Kelly, Jezyka Roldan, Audrey Phillips, Gina Andrizzi, Huw and Monique Holwill, Rick and Emmalee Trotta, Kerry and Tony McCalmont and Sophie Hawkins.

This year's basket delivery took place less than 24 hours after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., making for the starkest of contrasts between the activities taking place at Washington Elementary. Volunteer Kerry McCalmont, holing a drawing a little girl had given to her as she made one of her deliveries, began loading up her truck with another haul. “In light of all that has gone on, this is a reminder of the goodness and love that exists in the world,” said McCalmont.

If you would like more information about the BCC's program, you can e-mail them at ccholidaybaskets@aol.com or call (818) 843-3699.

DAVID LAURELL can be reached by e-mail dlaurell@aol.com or (818) 563-1007.