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DOWNEY - When Santa Claus appeared at the Bank of America/Rancho Los Amigos Family Adoption Party last Wednesday at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, one precocious six-year-old boy raced completely around Café Amigos in the hospital's Support Services Annex building.
Nobody could catch him, because he was filled with joy. That was the prevailing mood at the 18th Annual Bank of America Holiday Family Adoption Event, where 43 Rancho families in need had their Christmas dreams come true. After enjoying a fantastic dinner they received presents that fulfilled their holiday wishes, bought and wrapped up for them by community volunteers from the Bank of America Branch that adopted them.
There were so many presents that they covered an area four feet high, five feet deep and 40 feet wide in Café Amigos.
"We are so proud of our community volunteers from branches throughout the greater Los Angeles area said Roger Ferguson, the Co-Chair of the Bank of America Community Volunteers program for Southern California.
A longtime Rancho supporter, Roger works with Michele Quigley and dozens of other Bank of America community volunteers to help assure that every family gets just what they need for the holidays. "It's an honor to work with so many dedicated volunteers from throughout the Bank of America family. We all have a tremendous feeling of joy when we see the smiles from our adopted families as they get their gifts," he said.
Michele was one of the pioneers of the bank's help for the holidays at Rancho. "One father started crying and said we don't know how much a kind act like this can mean," Michele said. "I told him I completely understand, because my mother had five children and was on welfare. I know exactly what it's like to need help. Now that I'm in a position to help others, I've found it's much better to give than to receive."
Rancho is one of hundreds of organizations helped by the Bank of America Community Volunteer program, which has given nearly 50,000 hours of volunteer service throughout Southern California in 2012.
"This year, we had 61 families that needed help at the holidays, and Bank of America adopted over two-thirds of them," said Rancho Director of Volunteer and Support Services Debbie Tomlinson. "Bank of America has supported us since we started this program 18 years ago, and the 43 families they adopted this year is the most in the history of the program," she added.
Adding up all its service to Rancho, Bank of America has been supporting the world-renowned hospital for 39 years. In 2007, the Rancho Los Amigos Foundation presented the bank with the hospital's highest honor, the Amistad Award for its service to patient families in need.
"We also get strong support for the holiday adoption program from many other organizations, including Southern Wine & Spirits, Farmer John and Rancho Los Amigos Country Club," Debbie said. "This holiday season, volunteer passion has definitely been in fashion at Rancho."
Michele perhaps summed up the feelings of all those who help Rancho at the holidays, and especially her colleagues at Bank of America. "I cannot express how much it's means to me to be involved with Rancho, because it makes me understand just how blessed I am during this time of giving and caring."
Published: December 20, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 36