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Patti Horrigan wraps presents at Casey's Tavern in Canoga Park on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012.

For the past 12 years, Patti Horrigan has continued a holiday tradition at Casey's Tavern in Canoga Park.

A week before Christmas, Horrigan and two other women hold court in Casey's wrapping Christmas presents in exchange for a charitable donation to two local schools that work with disabled children. They'll keep wrapping right up to 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

"I enjoy wrapping presents and it's for a good cause," said Horrigan, 56, of West Hills.

She and her two helpers - Gail Stutz and Hycy Connelly - wrap an average of 300 gifts of all sizes each year.

"Oh I work on it all year long," Horrigan said of the preparation that goes into a week-long undertaking. "I'm always making bows and putting artificial flowers together and stuff. Everybody loves my bows and that makes me happy.

"And the men love it because they get their gifts wrapped. No store can do it like we do it."

There is no set fee, either. Casey's customers who get a gift wrapped are just asked to make a donation.

Last year the group raised $559 and the year before was $606, recalled Horrigan, who did payroll and office work for a company that supplied editors to the entertainment industry.

Horrigan and her cohorts are carrying on the Tavern's 20-year holiday tradition.

"The gal who's doing it now is very dedicated. She raises around $500 a year," said tavern owner Jean Casey.

Casey and her patrons are pretty dedicated, too.


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The tavern has raised about $135,000 for institutions serving the disabled through an annual golf tournament, raffles and other events like the gift wrap service.

It's all done for a simple reason.

"Well, we felt like helping. That's the kind of bar we've got," Casey said. "We're always raising money. When a good (cause) comes around we put out the box and start collecting."

She opened the bar in the summer of 1981 with her late husband, Lee G. Casey, and he began the fundraising effort about 10 years after.

"This was his dream," she said of helping others. "He asked before he died that we keep up his legacy."

And so it continues each year at Christmas.

Horrigan is also a patron of the Tavern.

"It's such a family place. It's like `Cheers' - everybody knows your name," she said.

And everyone who gets a gift wrapped by Horrigan and her crew know the money is going to a good cause.

Over the years the effort has benefited facilities like the Lull Special Education Center in Encino and the Diane S. Leachman High School in Reseda.

And the fundraising does add up to a pretty nice total.

`We still have $10,000 in the bank. It's sitting there for some group that really needs it," Casey said.

greg.wilcox@dailynews.com

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