David Plenn, owner of our beloved toy store, The Dinosaur Farm, along with his intrepid “Dino Dames and Dino Dudes” experienced a very real story of Christmas spirit this week. Out of the blue, Lauren Wong, a South Pas resident, approached Dinosaur Farm on behalf of Waleed Delawari. He wanted to purchase gifts for 127 students attending Crete Academy in South L.A. Crete is a non-profit charter school that brings education to children aged 4-14 who are homeless, transitional and living in poverty. They say their vision is “one day, the cycle of poverty will end and children who once were homeless will be leaders of this world.”
Wong and Delawari are small business owners themselves and specifically wanted to give another small business the opportunity to get in on this Christmas spirit and as a young, South Pasadena mom, Wong knew and loved Dinosaur Farm.
It all began when Delawari expressed a desire to help homeless children this Christmas which resulted in Wong connecting with the Crete Academy. They are in their very first operational year and she noticed they had an “adopt a child for Christmas” program and so she asked, “what if we adopted all of them?” Wong continues, “it just snowballed from there and it has been amazing for all of us.”
The Dino Farm team excitedly went straight to work with Wong, meticulously picking out just the right gifts for each age group and on Monday, Dino Dames Ally Ramsey and Alex Janetzke set about beautifully wrapping all 127 gifts in traditional, curly bow, Dinosaur Farm fashion!
Ramsey explains, “we went through the catalog and looked at all the gifts for the different ages at roughly the same amount for each gift. We wanted it to be something they would be excited to get and it was a little tricky – every kid is different so we tried to think, for example, what would five-year-old boys like? So we got tool-belt sets and pizza making kits and we got craft kits and really such a variety of fun things that we hope they will love.” The staff were filled with holiday spirit as they went through the store finding just the right toys along with Wong. “We got really excited picking things out for the kids,” says Ramsey, “it took about three hours. We felt like Santa’s elves! It was a very joyous thing.”
Janetzke tells us wrapping also took hours with a few paper cuts along the way and that it has been a really fun couple of days getting everything ready. The gifts are being picked up today and will be delivered by Santa himself at a special Christmas party luncheon to take place at the Crete Academy on Wednesday. The children and their parents have been invited to the lunch where the full turkey dinners are being donated by “The Only Place in Town” owner, William Kefalas.
Says Dinosaur Farm owner, Plenn, “it just feels good. These kids get nothing. I jumped at the opportunity and Ally and Lauren did such a great job. I’d put my two cents in and it was all very organized; we had to mark every package. We got to experience some true Christmas spirit.”
Of this holiday season Plenn says, “it’s always fun. This is our 23rd Christmas at the “Farm”. We bring in new people in September and train them for the holiday rush; teach them how to wrap, to understand they will be wrapping faster than you’ve ever wrapped a gift in your life!”
The Dinosaur Farm has special holiday hours and is open until 4pm on Christmas Eve. Plenn says “I usually stay an extra hour by myself because there is always that panicked Dad running in on Christmas Eve.” So, hmm, South Pasadenans, don’t let this be you! As Plenn is a musician, clients have always been able to count on the Farm having great music playing and that extends to the Christmas music. No Chipmunks here. More soothing, cool Latin jazz, holiday grooves. And they are known for their wonderful selection of Hanukkah toys, books and special gift wrap. So get in on this festive, holiday spirit goin’ down at Dinosaur Farm!
The Dinosaur Farm in South Pasadena on Mission Street: Special Holiday Hours
Monday Dec. 11: 10-6
Tuesday Dec. 12: 10-6
Wednesday Dec. 13: 10-6
Thursday Dec. 14: 10-8
Friday Dec. 15: 10-8
Saturday Dec. 16: 10-8
Sunday Dec. 17: 11-6
Monday Dec. 18: 10-6
Tuesday Dec. 19: 10-6
Wednesday Dec. 20: 10-8
Thursday Dec. 21: 10-8
Friday Dec. 22: 10-8
Saturday Dec. 23: 10-8
Sunday Dec. 24: 10-4
TOYS! TOYS! TOYS! TOYS!