jao holidayThe Japanese American Optimist (JAO) held its annual holiday party on Dec. 20 at Maryknoll Catholic Church in Downtown Los Angeles, as over 130 kids were invited from the following schools: 68th Street, Gates Street, Hobart Boulevard and Los Angeles Elementary.

Once the children arrived, they were escorted to the arts and crafts area that was organized by Tim Manaka and his family. Next, the children were treated to a safety presentation on precautions around the home during the holidays by Danny Wu of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Magician Mark Kiyabu demonstrated his “sleight of hand” with his amazing tricks and former Nisei Week Queen Erika Olsen performed holiday songs and had some the kids join her on stage to sing with her.

After a delicious lunch that was provided by the JAO members, Santa Claus made his entrance to the children’s delight, and every child received a gift to brighten their day.

This year’s holiday party was co-chaired by Billy Wing and Will McElroy. Assisting were President Joyce Nakashima and Youth Vice President Kitty Sankey. Special thanks go to Centenary United Methodist Church for its generous monetary and toy donation for this year’s event.

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