The annual event, first started in 1997, according to Elks member Joe Muñoz, also included a visit from Santa Claus and the Long Beach City College Carolers. Food was provided by McDonald’s.
“It gives so much back,” said Betty Woodson, one of Santa’s “helpers” and the wife of Elk member Dennis Woodson, who both assisted in giving stuffed animals to the members of the center.
AbilityFirst, formerly known as the Crippled Children Society, offers programs for children and adults with developmental disabilities, such as autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and epilepsy. The center serves Long Beach as well as Lakewood, Torrance, Seal Beach, Carson, Bellflower and Los Alamitos.