As fans of Classic TV are well aware, actor Jerry Mathers will forever be connected with the family sitcom of the 1950s and 1960s, Leave It to Beaver. It’s an association that has been handed down from generation to generation, and the reason why it was so special that Jerry took part in an event with the Dolores Mission School to help 100 underprivileged kids celebrate Christmas at The Hollywood Museum.
“I feel kind of lucky for all the wonderful things that I have in my life,” Jerry offers up in explanation for why he wanted to participate in this event. “It’s such a small gesture to be able to help bring so much joy to the children out there at the Dolores Mission School. And it’s definitely a win-win. Truthfully, I was honored to be asked to be a part of this wonderful annual event. Mrs. Dadigan from The Hollywood Museum and the kids were so excited. It’s always fun to have fans like that, especially at that age, because you’ll have them for a long time. It was good to see them enjoy themselves so much.”
The Dolores Mission School is a grade school (K-8) which is committed to serving low-income families in Los Angeles. Working hand-in-hand with the families, they strive to educate children academically, spiritually, physically and morally in what is a nurturing environment. The ultimate goal is to empower these children to rise out of poverty by becoming educated leaders in their community.
Sadly, many of the kids who were a part of the event never really get to celebrate a traditional Christmas, receive gifts, enjoy a dinner at a restaurant or even have the opportunity to travel outside of their areas. The event, now in its seventh year, included gifts for all 100 students, a tour of The Hollywood Museum, which was followed by lunch as special guests of the historic Mel’s Diner and concluding with each student receiving gift bags to take home.
Reflects Jerry, “For a lot of these kids, something like this is a big thing, because they probably don’t get very much for Christmas. So this was a way for them to at least have something. Again, it was just very nice and they were so excited. And then, the moment when they get to see Santa — it’s just a wonderful thing when you’re there to witness their joy, and to think that you can be a part of that moment is a genuine pleasure.”
And Jerry admits that there was definitely some pleasure in the fact that these kids actually knew who he was and had seen episodes of Leave It to Beaver, reinforcing once again that this gentle comedy that originally ran from 1957 to 1963 has managed to transcend time.
“It’s very gratifying,” he says, quickly emphasizing, “but it’s not me. The writers were so good and so was the entire cast. And it’s a great show. I think it has sticking power, because everything now is color and all of a sudden you see this black and white show that catches your eye. I know I used to watch The Little Rascals and shows like that as a kid, so I can understand the appeal of a good show with a good message. Not that The Little Rascals had that, but I watched it anyway. But Leave It to Beaver was a good show with a good message with stories that all came from real life in the fifties and sixties and are still happening to kids today.”
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