DOWNEY – The UCLA Alumni Los Angeles Southeast Network ("Southeast Bruins") are holding their third annual Holiday Party at Downey's very own Stay Gallery next Thursday, Dec. 10.
Alumni and friends will gather from 6-9 p.m. to celebrate the holidays but will also mark the occasion with a touching tribute: A teddy bear drive that aims to collect new stuffed animals to be delivered to children who are hospitalized as they fight cancer.
The night's guest speaker will be Alexandra Muñoz, a current UCLA student who is also a cancer survivor. Muñoz thought up the idea of collecting new teddy bears and other stuffed animals to give to children fighting cancer during her own hospitalization.
"During my fight with cancer, I had a stuffed animal that kept me company on the very long nights at the hospital," Muñoz shared during last year's holiday party. "I found it comforting to have it next to me - so much so that I still keep it with me, especially during finals."
Muñoz, with the help of her mother and friends, collects the stuffed animals and then makes the personal delivery to the hospital each year.
This year's event will see Christian Hernandez give the official welcoming remarks. Hernandez, who was raised in the Southeast, graduated from UCLA, and has since returned to the Southeast, was recently elected vice-mayor in the City of Cudahy.
Hernandez has publicly expressed his admiration for Munoz's upcoming drive, stating: "She is an amazing young woman and an inspiration to us all."
This will mark the third year that Muñoz collaborates with the Southeast Bruins. The teddy bears and stuffed animals will be donated to children who are receiving cancer treatment at UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital.
Those wishing to contribute can do so by dropping off a teddy bear or stuffed animal at Stay Gallery or by contacting Ricardo Perez, vice president of the Southeast Bruins, at firstname.lastname@example.org.