by Lynn Mills

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VOL. 1 NO. 29 Encino Sun January 6-12, 2007

A fundraising tale on Candy Cane Lane

BY LYNN MILLS

Cruising through Woodland Hills’ “Candy Cane Lane” area to look at the elaborate Christmas decorations was a holiday tradition for the Alch family. Despite the dazzling light displays, the
bumper-to-bumper traffic would prompt a shake of the head and comments like, “Could you imagine living on this street?”

Ironically, when they were looking to move from Encino to Woodland Hills five years ago, the family realized that their “dream house” happened to be smack dab in the middle of Candy Cane Lane. Ignoring previous concerns, they went ahead with the purchase.

“We thought it would be fun,” says Pam Alch.

Lights and decorations were bought and they soon became part of the neighborhood’s 50-year-old tradition, along with an estimated 70% of their neighbors.

“We live on a cul-de-sac, and throughout the year my kids and their friends want to have lemonade stands, but no one drives down the street until Christmas,” says Alch. So three years ago, they
decided to sell cookies and hot chocolate. “We felt that since it’s a time of giving and we weren’t in need of anything, we would give the money to charity.”

A new tradition was started — every Saturday evening in December, Beckie and Jenny Alch, 9 and 12, and their friends — spent up to five hours at a time hawking hot chocolate and cookies, sometimes in the bitter cold or rain.

When people discovered the money went to charity, they often just made donations. Beneficiaries have included Union Rescue Mission, the Salvation Army and the American Red Cross.

They raised nearly $1400 this holiday season. The first donation of $727.27 went to the West Valley Food Pantry, where mother- in-law Janice Alch volunteers. The girls used $641 to fill four shopping carts full of toys to donate to the Spark of Love toy drive.

“It’s fun and it gives you a good feeling inside. It’s hard work, but it’s totally worth it,” says one of the Alch’s fundraising friends, Veronica Huston, 10. “And you get all the hot chocolate you can drink!”

Photo caption: West Valley Food Pantry’s Alfred Trumpler is presented a big check by fundraising friends (from left) Jenny Alch, Beckie Alch, Veronica Huston, and Georgia Huston.