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MEND program gives holiday hope to local families

December 15, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Leann Menacho says with five children and no job, she had little hope for a happy holiday.

That is until the charity Meet Each Need with Dignity (MEND) brightened her holiday spirit.

Menacho joined many other families at the charity Thursday morning in Pacoima to pick out toys for their children.

"I think what they're doing is great because it helps families like myself that need help that can't do what they need to for the holidays. If this wasn't available right now, my kids wouldn't be having anything for Christmas," Menacho said.

"Definitely awesome I mean it lessens our stress for Christmas. I cannot give this place enough thanks for the help they've assisted us with," said MEND participant Holly Rodreguez.

MEND officials said that in the 40 years the charity has been around, the need has never been greater than now. The toys were donated to the charity by the community. Officials said they are grateful but still need help this holiday.

"We are very short on gifts for kids ages 10 to 14 and we need them by Sunday. Sunday is the last day we will be distributing Christmas baskets," said MEND President and CEO Marianne Haver Hill.

MEND officials said over the next four days they will help some 6,000 people this holiday, which is a 40 percent increase in the number of people they helped just three years ago.

"We've had several of our programs that have increased by 400 percent in the last three years because people are out of work, lost their homes and other economic tragedies that have happened to them," said Haver Hill.

MEND is not only providing gifts for children, but boxes of food as well.

"If MEND wasn't around my family would definitely be suffering tremendously from not having gifts and food on the table and MEND just brings a big part of Christmas to our family today," participant Richard Rodreguez said.

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