Dean and Susie Spanos gave Chargers-themed gifts to 500 deserving youth in a holiday wonderland at South Coast Plaza created by Costa Mesa's Festival of Children Foundation.
It's the season of giving, and on Friday night, Los Angeles Chargers Controlling Owner and Chairman of the Board, Dean Spanos, and his wife, Susie, participated in the 12th annual Sharing the Spirit Holiday Party at South Coast Plaza.
The shopping center was transformed into a winter wonderland for 500 deserving children as they were treated to a night of holiday fun created by Costa Mesa's Festival of Children Foundation, The Happiness Foundation and hundreds of volunteers and generous sponsors and donors.
"It's really something special to see the kids," mentioned Dean Spanos. "Some of these children don't have families, so to see the smiles on their faces and the bewilderment (of the event) is really great."
The Spanoses and members of the Chargers' staff passed out footballs and Chargers teddy bears to the kids. As Susie attested, the reactions she received made a lasting impact on her.
"This is one of the most heartwarming events I've ever been able to be part of," Susie explained. "A little kid came up to me when I handed him the bear and he said, 'Thank you. He's going to be my best friend.' It was so touching, and the look on the kids' faces as they receive the bears has been overwhelming. They've been so great and so full of joy. It's filling us all with enthusiasm and a renewed faith in humanity."
Dean and Susie are the inaugural recipients of the Carousel Spirit Award as they display an enduring commitment to improving the lives of children in Southern California.
"It meant so much to have them here," mentioned Sandy Segerstrom Daniels, Founder and Executive Director of the Festival of Children Foundation. "We've worked with them over the last year since they've been here in the community. But to tell them about what we do, and to have them (come) and see it and participate, (it) melted my heart. They were so good with the kids. The kids love them, and it was great."
But as good as it was for Dean and Susie to give back, they want others to share in their philanthropic endeavors. Giving back is a cornerstone of the Chargers organization and bringing awareness to helping others is of the utmost importance, especially this time of year.
"Giving back really makes you feel good, and we encourage others to do the same," Dean said. "Those who need the help appreciate it. They won't forget it as they get older, and they'll do the same thing. That speaks to our organization because everything is about family. We think of our organization as a family, so we want the community and everybody here to feel a part of our family. It's a small way to say that we're here to help and that we want to be a part of this community, and we hope others do the same."