The smiling faces can be seen in every corner of the high-school gymnasium at John C. Fremont High School. They are the reason why this Christmas party has become a South Los Angeles institution.
"This is a particularly challenging year because like everyone else, the economy is bad, but we are here for our kids," said Michelle Moore Sanders, director of the Ruth Moore Christmas Party. "We will always be here for our kids."
Michelle Moore Sanders says the party is more than just a giveaway -- it's meant to reinforce self-esteem and self-respect -- a tradition that started with Michelle's mother, Ruth Moore, who died in 1994.
"My mom and dad, I can't even describe how much they meant to the community," said Moore Sanders. "And here we are, 43 years later. My mom passed 14 years ago, my dad nine years ago, but we will always be here."
And while there was music and dancing, even magicians, the star attraction was of course jolly old St. Nick. With help from volunteers and donations from across the Southland, the children who attended Monday were able to pick from huge piles of toys.
"A lot of these kids, this is the only toy they will get for Christmas," said Moore Sanders.
The hundreds of at-risk children who attended Monday's party were all bused in from different parts of the city, and none left empty-handed.
"Each and every year it becomes more and more important for us to remain a part of the community," said Moore Sanders.
Organizers said that dating back to the 1960s when this party started, more than 80,000 children have attended this Christmas party and received a gift.
- Get more local news headlines from Los Angeles
- Have a news tip? Send your tips, video, or pictures