The Long Beach Christmas Angel is set to hold its 19th annual holiday party and fundraiser on Dec. 8 at Junction in Long Beach, at 20 W. Park Ave.
Proceeds from the event benefit the Long Beach-based non-profit organization, which is dedicated to improving the lives of families who are experiencing financial difficulties within the Long Beach School District, including victims of Hurricane Sandy.
The bulk of the Christmas Angel’s fundraising is done at its annual dinner party, one of the largest events in town, which draws hundreds of supporters and honors outstanding members of the community. The event will also feature a live band and DJ, dancing, raffles and a $10,000 grand cash prize.
This year’s event will honor Charles “Moose” Gusler, owner of Home Improvements by Moose, as well as youth organization volunteers representing the Cub Scouts, CYO, Girl Scouts, Gladiators, Long Beach Bulldogs, Long Beach Football Club, Long Beach Lacrosse, Long Beach/Lido Little League, and Long Beach Lightning.
“Being the director of a youth organization requires a lot of time and behind the scenes work,” said Johanna Sofield, president of the Long Beach Christmas Angel. “It’s a very time consuming job at times, and they often get overlooked for the fabulous work that they do. We wanted to honor those that work to ensure our youth have the opportunity to participate in programs that have meaningful impact in their lives.”
Gusler, meanwhile, often donates his time and work to help local organizations, including Citizens United to Remove Barriers (CURB).
“He has worked pro bono for the Long Beach Christmas Angel and he’s also done it for CURB,” Sofield said. “He recently built a ramp and lift for a multigenerational family in town, as the father’s illness has become debilitating and he was no longer able to safely access his home. Not only did he install the lift, he built a ramp leading up to it. It’s not an inexpensive job, and he does it for free. A few days spent working with a small crew, in addition to the material costs can add up. Every time Moose refuses to accept payment from the LBCA, he is actually helping us assist more families, and we wanted to honor him for that.”
What began as a holiday gathering at her home 19 years ago — at which Sofield and her husband, Greg, collected toys from guests to donate to charity — has grown into one of the largest charitable foundations in Long Beach, and the Long Beach Christmas Angel has donated nearly $2 million since its inception.
For years, the event was held at Bridgeview in Island Park, but Sofield said that this year, Greg felt it was important to hold the fundraiser in town.
“Bridgeview has always been great to us and it’s a wonderful place to have an event, but on the five-year anniversary of Sandy, we wanted to do our part to support a local Long Beach business,” Johanna said. “With its central location and stage, we decided to have it at Junction for 2017. It was time to mix it up and bring it back to Long Beach.”
For more information, visit www.longbeachchristmasangel.com.