TEMECULA, CA – The holidays came a few weeks early for 400 underserved children and their families in the Inland Empire of Southern California. Hundreds of children from Lake Elsinore, Murrieta, Temecula, Menifee and the surrounding communities were welcomed by special invitation to enjoy a 40,000 sq. ft. winter wonderland inside the Pechanga Summit Events Center. During Pechanga’s sixth “Holiday of Hope” event, the guests of honor enjoyed nine different holiday activities including photos with Santa, holiday movies by a fire, a traditional holiday meal, listened to Christmas singers from local high school choirs, played holiday bingo, and even rode a train. They also got to meet former Los Angeles Lakers AC Green and Robert Horry who volunteered for the event. Each child and his or her family were identified by the Temecula, Lake Elsinore and Murrieta School Districts as in-need individuals. According to a May 2022 report, there are 3,316 homeless children and adults in Riverside County, CA, up from 2020’s count of 2,884.
“The Holiday of Hope event is something we look forward to hosting each year,” said Andrew Masiel, Sr., President of the Pechanga Development Corporation. “So many smiling faces shows us the event brightens a lot of people’s lives here in our region. We understand how important holiday memories are for children as they grow up and how special they can be. The Temecula Valley is our home so to be able to give back and to partner with our local school districts to show these children and families that people are out there who care a lot about their well-being, this is what the holidays are all about.”
“Every year I come, it’s just fantastic,” said AC Green, former Lakers player. “Just seeing what they’re doing and how Pechanga has done in the community is just great. Understanding people, their needs, knowing it’s the season, yes, but all year round. They’re always reaching out seeing how they can help and do more. So I always love coming here and working with them throughout the year.”
Each of the 400 children attending the Holiday of Hope event got to choose his or her very own, age-appropriate gift. Their families were also each given a $100 gift card. Pechanga provided shuttle service to some of the families who live in Murrieta and Lake Elsinore so they could be sure to get to the Holiday of Hope event.
The kids and families also enjoyed musical performances by the Chaparral High School and Great Oak High School choirs. The groups generously agreed to donate their time to this event.