The countdown to holiday celebrations is on, and many community members are in the midst of their shopping frenzy. But for families who are struggling, especially those with young children, the holidays are often a difficult time of year.
Each year, with the help of the community and volunteers, Child Abuse Listening Mediation (CALM) provides hundreds of children and families in Santa Barbara County with holiday cheer by delivering gifts, basic supplies, food and festive decorations during the holiday season through the Adopt-a-Family Program.
CALM identifies families in need, to whom it has provided supportive services and counseling, and then coordinates with staff to determine each particular family's needs. Last year, CALM supporters adopted 174 families throughout Santa Barbara County. This year, CALM has received more than 240 wish lists from struggling families in both North and South Santa Barbara County.
With the support and generosity of the local community, CALM is hoping to reach those families and possibly even more dealing with the devastation of child abuse and neglect. Wish lists are modest and help meet the family's basic needs. One family who needs to be adopted requested a doll, a pair of shoes, and some clothes for the 2-year-old, a board game for the 6-year-old, and shoes for the 23-year-old mother.
CALM's Adopt-a-Family is a unique way to give back to the community and support families in need. CALM encourages those interested to join together with friends, family, classmates and even co-workers in the spirit of giving, and make a difference this holiday season by adopting a family.
This year, CALM is working with local school groups, businesses and other organizations to get into the spirit of giving and consider adopting one or multiple families as a team. In Santa Barbara, more than 300 students, teachers, coaches and other school staff at Santa Barbara High School are coming together to give gifts to 16 families, including 35 children ranging in ages from 10 months to 12 years.
"We are so excited to expand our CALM Adopt-a-Family tradition from our one ASB class to a school-wide effort this year," said Laura Wooster, ASB Leadership teacher at SBHS. "Students are humbled by this experience and looking forward to collecting gifts for local families. We are hopeful that this will be a school-wide tradition within the Dons community for years to come."
Also adopting families this year are staff and residents at Magnolia Care Home, an assisted-living residence in Santa Maria that specializes in caring for seniors with Alzheimer's. They are adopting two families from the Santa Maria area specifically.
"We are very much looking forward to sharing this special giving experience with our residents," said Margie Halsell of Magnolia Care Home. "We will work with the residents to wrap the gifts we have purchased for our two adopted families, and this fun and interactive activity is sure to bring smiles to many faces."
Other local businesses and schools that have worked together to adopt families through CALM include Allergan, American Riviera Bank, Banana Republic, Barlett, Pringle & Wolf LLP, The Children's House Montessori School, Community West Bank, Cor-Ray Painting, Crane Country Day School, Deckers Outdoor Corporation, Fess Parker Doubletree Resort, Fielding Graduate University, Kinyon Construction, Marian Medical Center (Same Day Care/Recovery Staff), Marymount of Santa Barbara, Mission Wealth Management, New Life Painting, Orfalea Foundation, PMSM Architects, Revive Health, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Santa Maria Noontime Rotary Club, The Spine and Orthopedic Center, Sunrisers Lions Club, St. Peter's Episcopal Church and Taylor Elementary School.
Participating individuals or groups can purchase a particular gift from an assigned family's wish list, or leave the shopping to CALM. Any contribution is appreciated warmly welcomed. CALM is requesting that all gifts be turned into CALM by Tuesday to allow therapists the time to deliver the gifts to the families before the holidays. Through the community's help, the children and families CALM serves will feel the sense of belonging and care from our community.
For more information on how to Adopt-a-Family, please contact Ashlyn McCague at 805.965.2376 or Sandra Fuhring at 805.614.9160, or click here.
CALM was founded in 1970 to reach stressed parents before they hurt their children. CALM continues to be the only non-profit agency in Santa Barbara County focusing solely on preventing, assessing, and treating child abuse and family violence through comprehensive, cutting-edge programs. CALM offers children, families, and adults a safe, non-judgmental, caring, and strength-based environment to heal and increase family well being.
For more information about all of CALM's services, click here or call 805.965.2376.
— Jennifer Zacharias is a publicist representing CALM.