A tree lighting ceremony on Friday at Grossmont Center in La Mesa officially kicked off the holiday season and the mall’s partnership with the Salvation Army.
Shoppers gathered around the mall’s 18- foot tree during the celebration, while the Salvation Army Brass Ensemble played holiday music.
“This is my favorite time of the whole year,” said Amina Gharbaoui. “I love it.”
Each year Grossmont Center partners with the Salvation Army Kroc Center to help more than 400 families in need. Friday’s festivities officially kicked off the holiday toy drive and kettle drive.
“We get to see the families firsthand,” said Maj. Rick Peacock. “We get to see them sometimes joyous, sometimes very tearful and it’s great for us. Without the public donating, it just wouldn’t happen and so it means an awful lot to us.”
Even Santa Claus set aside his busy schedule to attend the tree lighting, but then he got right back to work.
“It’s 24-7 until Christmas,” said Santa. “Just a little sleep here and there, but my jobs never done until after Christmas.”
If you plan on shopping at Grossmont Center this holiday season there are several drop-off locations for new toys and the kettle drive.