For nine consecutive years, California Families in Focus, the Long Beach-based nonprofit founded by Macias that helps women and children who have faced abuse, has held a Spirit of Christmas Brunch for needy families.
Rivera, who was raised on the city's Westside, has supported the event the past two years. Last year, she sent a van of toys to the brunch, and this year, Rivera donated about 90 sets of pajamas and 75 pairs of slippers.» Jenni Rivera memorial won't be in Long Beach
Those items were stuffed into gift bags given to women at the end of the brunch.
On Sunday at the ninth annual brunch held at the Gaslamp Restaurant, Rivera, who died in a Dec. 9 plane crash in Mexico, was given the Angel Award for her contributions to the nonprofit group.
California Families in Focus' board of directors selected Rivera as the award recipient shortly after her latest donation, which was made several weeks before her death, Macias said.
Rivera's cousin, Nancy Alvarez, 33, of Corona, accepted the award for the singer Sunday. Alvarez also is a friend of Macias' and had called Rivera about donating to the nonprofit.
"To have Jenni recognized like this is very cool," Alvarez said. "It's amazing to see how many people she touched. She gave back to the community."
About 1,200 women and children attended this year's Spirit of Christmas Brunch. California Families in Focus contacted a few social service agencies, including Tarzana Treatment Center, Woman to Woman and the Women's Shelter of Long Beach, who then invited their clients to attend the event at the Gaslamp, Macias said.
Many of the women and children at the brunch are survivors of domestic violence and cope with various types of emotional trauma, Macias said.
The event was structured as an enjoyable, stress-free afternoon, she said.
The day started with the brunch. Afterward, the children went outside and played various games or did arts-and-crafts activities.
The women, however, stayed inside the restaurant and listened to personal empowerment speakers and sang karaoke.
Later, about 400 children gathered in the parking lot waiting for their Christmas toys to arrive, but the presents didn't arrive by reindeer pulling a sleigh. They were brought by a caravan of more than 400 motorcyclists, representing a coalition of 14 bike clubs, leading several toy-filled trucks and SUVs.
The motorcyclists and private donations paid for the toys, Macias said.
Presents for the women were gift bags stuffed with the pajamas and slippers, perfume, shampoo and body lotion.
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