Friday, November 27 , 2015, 6:19 am | Fair 43º

Laguna Blanca Students Hold Holiday Gift Drive for Foster Youths

Laguna Blanca students Joan Curran, left, Dana Martin, Erica Keane, Trish McHale and Kylan Tyng hold up a few of the toys and other items collected for the school’s Holiday Gift Drive.
Laguna Blanca students Joan Curran, left, Dana Martin, Erica Keane, Trish McHale and Kylan Tyng hold up a few of the toys and other items collected for the school’s Holiday Gift Drive.  (Laguna Blanca School photo)

By Jennifer Zacharias for Laguna Blanca School |

For the fifth year, Laguna Blanca’s Middle and Upper School students joined together with giving spirits for their annual Holiday Gift Drive.

Last Thursday, more than 250 students gathered gifts for children living in the Santa Barbara County foster-care system, and presented the wish list items to representatives from the Santa Barbara Social Services Department at a special school assembly.

“It warms my heart to see the love and generosity showered upon the neediest children in our community,” said Dana Martin, Middle and Upper School assistant and Middle School advisor. “That is what the holiday season is really all about.”

Throughout the Santa Barbara County, the Social Services Department gathers holiday wish lists from children (infants to teens) who are living with foster families or in foster care group homes. Each participating Laguna Blanca student received a gift request from a foster youth and volunteered to gather gifts for their respective foster child. These wish lists include items such as clothes, toys and sports equipment, and a vast number of teenagers (up to age 19) are hoping for something as simple as iTunes gift cards. Also included with the requests are the name and age of each child, so the Laguna Blanca students truly feel a connection with whom they are giving gifts.

At the special assembly, Erica Keane, the school’s Interact Club president, introduced Delphino Neira, Santa Barbara Social Services deputy director, who spoke about the foster-care program and about how the donated gifts will help give hope to children in foster care. Santa Barbara Rotary Club president Chris Clemens also spoke at the assembly about how the Interact Club functions with the Santa Barbara Rotary Club, and how the Rotary Club collects money each year for teens in foster care.

“Laguna Blanca School is a community that cares,” said Trish McHale, Interact Club advisor. “In this event, our care and kindness is extended beyond campus and into the community.”

This year, McHale will take Middle School students to the Department of Social Services to wrap all the gifts collected throughout the county.

“We’re so excited!” she said.

For more information about the Laguna Blanca Holiday Gift Drive or for information on how to donate to foster youth, please contact Dana Martin at 805.687.1752 x202 or [email protected].

Laguna Blanca School is a K-12 co-educational, college preparatory day school. Laguna Blanca School guides students to greater heights by building upon the 80-year tradition of academic excellence with new and innovative teaching methods and programs. With the thriving global studies program, resourceful iPad initiative, competitive Condor League athletics, and the state-of-the-art academic research center, the School continues to broaden and enrich our students’ educational experience. Click here for more information.

— Jennifer Zacharias is a publicist representing Laguna Blanca School.

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