Annual “Christmas Wishes” drive receives 600 gifts
While the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly all walks of life, it couldn’t prevent residents from showing the holiday spirit.
An example of this was seen for Court Appointed Special Advocates of Santa Barbara County’s annual “Christmas Wishes” gift drive, which saw record-breaking donations made this year. A total of 600 gifts were donated, along with more than $6,500 in cash and gift card donations in support of the effort.
The annual gift collection has been held for the past 14 years, but there has never been a year with so many children in need, according to Kim Colby Davis, executive director of CASA of Santa Barbara County.
“We have been overwhelmed with the community’s response to this year’s event,” Ms. Davis said in a news release. “When we started this years ago, we collected close to 100 gifts. Today, we are happy to announce that more than 600 gifts have been safely collected and donated to children in need this holiday season.”
CASA worked in collaboration with Child Welfare Services and other partner agencies and was able to fill the holiday wishes of every child in the court’s care due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment.
“We could not do a project of this magnitude without the support of our wonderful community. We had more than 31 groups and individuals who organized and provided gifts for all of the children in care,” said Ms. Davis. “We do our annual gift drive a little bit different than most toy drives because we serve children from newborn to age 20.
“The variety of ages means that their wishes and needs are widely different, and a toy drive would not meet the needs of our tiniest and our older youth.”
Nearly 300 CASA volunteers took part in this year’s efforts. In the case of the almost 200 children on CASA’s waiting list, their county social worker made sure to learn each of their wishes. Local service groups worked collaboratively as they sought a positive way to give back during this challenging year.
“We didn’t know what to expect this year as we embarked on the annual gift drive,” Ms. Davis explained. “We know that the pandemic has impacted so many in our community, and yet we had to try to make sure that children experienced the joy of a wish filled at Christmas.”
Ms. Davis praised the donors who took part in the event.
“I can’t even express how touched we are by the thoughtfulness of each gift,” she said. “It’s inspiring to see how the community understands how important it is to give each child something they need or especially wish for at Christmas.”
Kira Cosio, CASA’s associate director of donor engagement, spent the past few weeks traveling to areas throughout the county to collect the donated gifts. All county health guidelines were observed during the duration of the collection and distribution.
“Despite all of the setbacks of the year, it was amazing to see how generous people are,” said Ms. Cosio. “Our donors took so much pride in picking out the perfect gift; I loved seeing all of the different festive gift bags, fun toys, and adorable clothes they chose!
“The highlight for me was meeting with long time CASA supporters as well as new donors, even while we were wearing our masks, socially distant, or arranging a contactless pickup – we got the job done!”
CASA thanked all the donors who contributed this year, including the following groups and organizations: 30th CPTS, A G I A, Atlas Copco Santa Maria, American General Media, Child Support Services of Santa Barbara County, Conqs for Christ at Cabrillo Senior High School, DenMat, Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley, Guild Mortgage Company, Hacienda Realty, Hilton Garden Inn Lompoc, Junior League of Santa Barbara, Laguna Blanca School, Landmark Global, Kiwanis of Santa Maria – Noontime, “Martha’s Angels” at the Probation Department, Mission Hope Cancer Center, Montecito Bank & Trust, Mountain View Elementary School, Ontraport, Pacific Central Coast Health Centers at Marian Regional Medical Center, Rotary Club of Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Tribal Elders, Sunburst Community, Titan Frozen Foods, Toyota of Lompoc, Toyota Of Santa Maria, UA Local 114, UCSB Kappa Alpha Theta, Vandenberg Air Force Base Civil Engineers, and WAV Group.