(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - The Mayor's Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs (OAPIA) held its annual "Share a Smile, Give a Toy" Toy Giveaway and Year-End Celebration on December 12, 2013 at the Old Council Chambers of One Judiciary Square.
For the past seven years, OAPIA has collected and distributed 2000 toys to over 1800 District children. Toys are donated from local community members, community based organizations, and District government employees for children from infancy to 15 years of age. Activities for children at the event included storytelling from Santa, balloon making, face painting, and cultural performances.
"The best part was the face painting," said Rachel Lee, one of the 210 children in attendance.
OAPIA Director Soohyun "Julie" Koo made warm remarks, and recognized and honored Hien Vu, the Founder and President of the Vietnamese American Community Service Center (VACSC), for all her hard work in the Vietnamese American community in the District. City Administrator Allen Lew, on behalf of Mayor Vincent C. Gray, presented the Mayor's Certificate of Appreciation to Mrs. Vu.
"Through Hien's leadership, VACSC was able to grow and prosper over the years by expanding its programs, servicing more families and individuals in need than ever before. We at OAPIA are sad to see VACSC close its doors, as VACSC and Hien's presence in the community will surely be missed," said Director Koo.
VACSC offered academic and recreational enrichment for children through afterschool programs, provided cultural, educational, and other programs, and promoted cultural heritage, to enhance the quality of life for all Vietnamese American residents in the District of Columbia. Hien helped serve the Vietnamese American community through VACSC in the District of Columbia for over nine years. VACSC closed on September 30, 2013.
"OAPIA's toy giveaway event helps make the holiday season special for our Asian American and Pacific Islander families," said Hien Vu. "I am always glad to see our community come together for a great cause and to share the holiday spirit with children who are less fortunate. I am also very thankful for all the fond memories over the years and for those who have touched my life, especially for those who have made Thursday night memorable."
The event this year was made possible due to the generosity and contributions from the many volunteers, individuals, organizations, and businesses, including: Angela Lam, the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund, Asian American LEAD, Asian Americans Advancing Justice - AAJC, Center for Asian Pacific American Women, Chinatown Service Center, Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, Costco, Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company, Destiny-Pride, Inc., Eat First Restaurant, Eric Paler, Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative, Fuel Pizza, Inc., Glenn Kikuchi, John Tinpe, Korean American Grocers Association of Washington, DC, Martha Watanabe, Mayor's Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs, Momiji Restaurant, National Association of Asian American Professionals - DC Chapter, OCA-DC, PAUL Bakery, Sasha Bruce Youthwork, Tan Tran, Teaism, Thuy Le, Walter Lee, Wilma Consul, and Wok and Roll Restaurant.