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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
Southern California

Universal Studios Hosts Day Of Giving

Universal Studios hosted its 11th Annual Day of Giving to provide donations for homeless students from LAUSD. 

Homeless Los Angeles area children received new clothes, backpacks, shoes and school supplies thanks to Universal Studios Hollywood and Operation School Bell as part of the 11th annual “Day of Giving.” As if that wasn’t enough, they got “front of the line” priorities for their afternoon in the park.

This project was just one part of the Day of Giving, during which Universal employees volunteer at local organizations, including A Place Called Home, AIDS Project L.A., Pacific Lodge Boys’ Home, Covenant House L.A. and Shane’s Inspiration.

“A common theme for us, though, is that all of the projects, or most of them, are dealing with children. And we’re focusing a little bit this year on homelessness, which is a huge issue in our city,” said Universal Studios Hollywood Director of Community Relations Dorothea Scattaglia.

The 250 children receiving gifts at Universal Studios were all classified as currently homeless by the Los Angeles Unified School District, but they were all smiles as they showed off their new kicks and talked about what rides they most wanted to experience. While Fast & Furious – Supercharged was the most exciting part of the day to the children, the most important items they received were shoes, according to Operation School Bell Volunteer Debbie Young. 

“We hear from the social workers and the PSA counselors that the children can receive from older siblings stained or dirty clothes. They cannot wear their older sibling's shoes because they’ve fallen apart,” said Young. “These children come to us and when we measure their feet almost 90% of the time they’re in a shoe that is three sizes larger than what they’re wearing.”

A child is fitted for new shoes (David Merrell)
A child is fitted for new shoes (David Merrell)

Young expressed gratitude for the volunteers, particularly cadets from the LAPD who eased the burden of fitting children with their new shoes. However, she noted that Operation School Bell is looking for a sponsor to pay for the shoes in the future, as it is easily the most expensive initiative the group undertakes, on top of being the most important.

Universal Studios Hollywood President Larry Kurzweil was on hand, in a T-shirt and sunglasses, helping out for the event. “I just think this means the world to them, I think today is just for them, just hugely significant in their life,” he said. Kurzweil also complimented Operation School Bell, saying “this particular group, the kids that are here today, we love what they do as an organization and we will be around for a long time working with them.”

Students excited to see inside Universal Studios (David Merrell)
Students excited to see inside Universal Studios (David Merrell)

The students could not contain their excitement, and chaperones had to calm them down and pair them off in the buddy system on their way into the park for an experience they almost certainly could never have afforded otherwise.

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