Le Lycée Francais is an exclusive private school in Los Angeles. One day in November, an administrator from the school called up the offices of IHADLA and asked if they could provide toys to our Dreamers for the holidays. We said, without hesitation, “Of course!” Through a web search conducted by the student body of Ly Lycée, the I Have a Dream Foundation – Los Angeles had been selected over all other area non-profits to be the beneficiary of their Annual Holiday Toy Drive! So, in mid-December, three SUVs filled to the brim with toys, books, and stuffed animals arrived for delivery to our Dreamers in both Inglewood and Watts.The Inglewood Dreamers received their wonderful gifts almost immediately; the Watts Dreamers, though, were to be surprised the following day by the student council of Le Lycée, who would deliver the presents directly into their little hands.
For most of our Dreamers, Christmas is a humble celebration. We knew that this “special delivery” would brighten their day, but we never expected just how much.
The Le Lycée students arrived at the start of the after-school program and were partnered with a pair of Dreamers for the day. The older kids were then in charge of leading the unknowing young Dreamers into a room full of toys, books and stuffed animals.
As they entered the room, some Dreamers would beam with joy and others would stand still, holding their hands in front of their mouths in disbelief. Some Dreamers got teary-eyed, cautiously approaching each table of gifts. They looked at us in disbelief, “We can have any toy we want?”
Brand new soccer balls were unwrapped and everyone played together – boys and girls, teachers and students, older and younger, private school and public school alike. The lesson was an important one: that it is only circumstance which separates us. For our Dreamers, it is incredibly important for them to see that the playing field can be equal, not only on the soccer field, but in life.
As our new “big brothers and sisters” at Le Lycée prepared to leave, some exchanged friendship bracelets and some promised to become pen pals. Everyone was smiling.
Gladis, the little girl in front holding the stuffed animal that she chose from the gift tables, started to cry when her new friends had to leave. Her new “older sisters” gathered around and gave her a big group hug, some of them wiping away tears of their own. All hoped this would only be the beginning of an enduring friendship between Le Lycée Francais and IHADLA.