Project Love II

A door creaks open to a room of individually wrapped packages and a lengthy adorned tree that symbolizes the occasion. Once a year, the heart-warming scene of a child opening up a Christmas gift and projecting it above himself in triumph happens.

This might be a reality for some of us and quite literally be a despairing fantasy for others.

Project Love was created by McDonnell Douglas which later merged with Boeing, a company which manufactures and sells aircraft parts. For 45 years, Project Love has been doing altruistic deeds.

“About three years or four years ago, they (Project Love) had to stop because (of) economic struggles and their financial cutbacks, ” Marla Burns,a former Cerritos College professor and current organizer for Project Love II (a donation program that stems out to Navajo elementary schools), said.

After Boeing decided to stop its donations, Burns didn’t have the heart to let Project Love go, so she brainstormed a way to keep the giving going.

With guidance from two of Project Love’s board members, who worked with Boeing when the former program existed, Burns heeded to their advice to “change the name of the program” and came up with the name Project Love II.

Starting Oct. 8 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., you can choose a child to donate to. You can donate money directly or buy a modest gift estimated around $20 dollars to contribute to the cause.

On the individual forms, the children ask for specific gifts such as Barbie dolls, tea sets and paint supplies. “What really is a hit are basketballs,” Burns mentioned.

“The real nice thing about Project Love is that it’s completely voluntary. When all the gifts are inventoried, the Navajo come and pick up the gifts with a flat bed truck and secure it well with a blue tarp because the journey back to the schools (entails) great elevation, rain and snow (on the way) back and can be really hard, but we’re doing it,” Burns explained.

She put the whole program in perspective, “The deal is that they get to open their presents at the school and it is up to their teacher to see that they reply, with a drawing or a letter back from the older kids.”

Cheryl Thury, administrative assistant to President Linda Lacy, has been contributing to the cause for the past 15 years, and stated after picking a child, “I think it’s great to pay it forward, I think it’s something great because I have children of my own and I can’t imagine them not having a Christmas.”

Not every donation gets a reply, unfortunately, but most often there are thank you returns which Burns spoke a little about.

“The kids are very genuine and always very grateful. The younger children will draw pictures and the older ones write thank you letters.”

Professor Ashe, also a contributor and an English teacher at Cerritos College, stated, “All credit goes to Marla Burns (for) her total commitment to all the children the program serves.”