The program had toys for any children who came to the center during the gift giveaway.
After making it through the long lines, children decorated cookies, ate tamales and then entered a room stacked with thousands of toys.
"When I started New Horizons Center, it was my philosophy that every child should have a present on Christmas, regardless of where you came from," said Maria Rochart, founder of the New Horizons Center. "It's about Santa Claus, and Santa Claus doesn't ask."
Rochart started the gift giveaway eleven years ago out of her 500-square-foot house.
"The first time ... we had like 100 toys," she said. "I used to have hot dogs and punch and we would give the toys away."
Since then, sponsors and donors have joined Rochart's effort. Congressman Adam Schiff donates hundreds of sweaters each year, and companies like DreamWorks and Mattel donate toys. This year was the first that the event could boast a corporate sponsor -- Citibank.
"It's nice to have someone help fill in the gaps," Roche said.
Maria Villasenor, a parent who regularly brings her children to the center, said she was happy that the event is so successful.
"This is a very important place for the kids' learning," Villasenor said.
"They come here all the time; they learn how to be social."
Villasenor's two children, however, were too preoccupied with choosing their presents to be very social. Kathy, her 4-year-old daughter, was lost in thought while standing in line until finally she announced her decision.
"I think I want a Barbie," she said.
* LAUREN HILGERS covers education. She may be reached at (818) 637-3205 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.