Monday, December 22, 2008
District Attorney Cooley Plays Santa to Crime Victims
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley played Santa on Friday morning for 14 young children and teenagers who had lost family members to crimes.
Although he did not don the traditional red suit, Cooley distributed toys and games to four families as part of his office’s 24th Annual Holiday Giving Drive during a media event.
Four-year-old Christian Hidalgo happily exclaimed “whoa!” as Cooley presented him with a box almost as large as he was. This will be the boy’s firstholiday season without his father, Victor Hidalgo, who was killed by a drunk driver in January.
Hidalgo had been the sole provider for his family, working two jobs to support Christian, 8-year old Jordi, and wife, Rosalie Hidalgo, a Cooley aide explained.
Three-year-old Elizabeth Gonzalez shyly hid behind her mother’s legs when Cooley called her name. Gonzalez had never met her father, Pablo Gonzalez, a liquor store cashier who was killed during a robbery before she was born. Her siblings, 6-year-old Jordan, 13-year-old Valerie, and 15-year-old Brenda all received gifts as well.
Other recipients included Anaya, Deante and Anthony McDaniels, whose grandfather, Anthony Boyd McDaniels, was murdered in 2006, and Esce, Greg, Melinda, Oscar and Robert Cortez, who lost their older brother, 17-year old Raymond, last year.
Cooley reflected that “for most people, the holidays are a time of celebration, but it can also be a time of sad reflection” for crime victims.
Although his office secured convictions of the defendants charged with the crimes which had “shattered” each of the families at Fridays’ event, Cooley said he wanted to show them that his office cared about the families out of the courtroom as well.
“We want to let them know they’re not alone, and not far from our thoughts,” he said. “We care, and we’re here to help them heal.”
Members of the District Attorney’s Office and its private-sector partners gathered over $18,000 in gifts to distribute last week to over 450 other children whose lives had been affected by crime, a spokesperson said.
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company