Transcripts of full meetings of the council.

Thank you, Mr. President. I would like to thank all of those who helped us with our yearly party for the homeless and other members in our city that we had on December 18th. This year or in December we were blessed to feed -- and Kevin Parker confirmed the numbers from Ms. Tootsie's Soul Food Cafe -- 7,500 people. We gave out nearly 4,000 toys and 50 bikes that were donated, and we took more than a thousand pictures with Santa and so many other activities.

This year was the first year we even had a barber shop at 43rd and Chestnut, Philly Cuts, close their businesses and we had seven barbers cutting hair for those who needed it, as well as the yearly face painting and moon bounce and many other activities.

So we're grateful to some 30 people or more who contribute. Not only labor, but certainly people from food to dessert, where Tastykake helps us, so many private institutions, so many colleges and universities. We thank the Convention Center and how much they gave. Certainly the FOP always helps us keep our lines in order. We thank Shop Rite and certainly Fresh Grocer, and that's just to name a few, Mural Arts and many, many others. We are grateful for the opportunity to try to serve so many people in these hard times. And God always blesses us. It's like the story with the fishes and the loaves of bread. We never run out. People always have the opportunity to eat all they want, and we always have toys then and beyond so that children have an opportunity to have a decent holiday. We are grateful for that.

So, again, we want to thank all of those who were involved in that, and we want to announce that right now in -- I should have made copies for everybody -- 476, my other office, we have under Echoes of Africa, we're having a program. Many of you have met my best friend who has been in Nigeria 44 years. She is hosting a forum with students from Friends Select, and we're trying to organize an exchange program between her school in Nigeria, where she has some 3,000 students, and certainly students from Friends Select. We invite you to come by in between before we start our next public hearing. We invite you to come by to introduce yourself. There should be some 24 students from Friends Select down the street who were there, and we'd love to have you come just to greet them and let them know that you were here and so that they may be encouraged. We're even having a fashion show taught by Youma Ba, who is head of the Fulani Association of North America and certainly owner of Kilimanjaro Restaurant at 43rd and Chestnut. So that's another exciting thing. We hope those of you who have time can stop by just to greet the kids.

And, finally, we would like to say that we've been very busy. I thank Ben on my staff for working on these hearings. Jerry Jordan, who is President, as we know, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, will have a briefing -- and we'll send you a list of these, so it's okay if you don't write them down now -- on the 29th at noon. We'll have a briefing in the Caucus Room on the status of affairs per the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. And let me say that the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, they give us maybe a couple thousand toys for our people. And it's so encouraging when we have our affair, because teachers who have a hard enough time trying to take care of children in their classrooms and principals also give to our event so that other children who have nothing have something.

So I'm very, very honored that the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers helps us and does such a wonderful job going around the City collecting toys for children in need. So that's on January 29th at noon.

And on February 7th, Vincent Hughes will brief us on the state education affairs that he sees there with regard to Harrisburg and the state Senate.

On February 19th, charter school operators -- these are at 10:00, both those meetings -- will contact us and will be in the Caucus Room to voice their concerns, and we need to have a discussion about how they see this budget. I always talk about how the state created this funding mechanism where they're all funded from the same pot instead of separate pots to keep people fighting.

And on February 26th, we will hold hearings where we will examine the current state of early childhood education in the City.

Also let me mention to you, all of you received an invitation about a grand opening for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for Philadelphia and beyond. Their field offices will open at 30 North 41st Street. It's 41st and Market in our district. So this will be for this whole city and region, immigration services will be there, which is really, really great for us since we work so much with the African and Caribbean immigrant community. And that is on the 28th at 11 o'clock. All of you have received an invitation, and this is in one of our brand new -- the only platinum building that was just opened in Philadelphia. It's at that location. So we will have new immigrant offices there for all of your people to enjoy, and we hope that you will come. That's February 28th at 11:00. And we will call your offices today to confirm whether or not you're able to come, as they are confirming with the feds as to who will be among us and who will be able to come.

So I know there's a lot, but I'll still send you a note. And we say thank you, everyone, and we look forward to your participation.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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