Santa Claus made his sixth annual “Stuff the Bus” parade ride down State Street in Santa Barbara on Wednesday, collecting thousands of unwrapped gifts for 400 children from low-income families living at Peoples’ Self-Help Housing’s affordable housing properties from Santa Barbara to Goleta.

Santa traveled in a decorated Santa Barbara MTD bus, escorted by the Santa Barbara Police Department’s 1957 Chevy patrol car driven by Officer Adrian Guttierez, and made stops to pick up toys and gift cards at collection boxes locations. This year’s official Santa stops were Community West Bank, Marshalls, Paseo Nuevo, Starbucks and Hotel Santa Barbara.

Project sponsors were Paseo Nuevo/La Cumbre Plaza, Montecito Bank & Trust, Community West Bank, Citrix Online, Santa Barbara MTD, the Santa Barbara Police Department, Italia Restaurant, Rincon Broadcasting, the Santa Barbara News-Press, Ayers Automotive Repair and others.

Elected officials (including Assemblyman Das Williams, Santa Barbara City Councilman Frank Hotchkiss, Goleta Mayor Ed Easton), sponsor VIPs, children and PSHH staff hopped on the bus at Community West Bank at State and Micheltorena streets. The ride ended 30 minutes later at Peoples’ Ladera Apartments in Westside Santa Barbara, where more than 40 volunteers will sorted and wrapped the toys and gift cards for 400 children, which were then transported to PSHH affordable rental complexes for distribution to the kids.

Kate Schwab was this year’s chairwoman of the sixth annual Stuff the Bus holiday gift campaign. Well-known in the Santa Barbara community, Schwab is the assistant manager of marketing and customer service at Metropolitan Transit District and was the manager at the downtown Borders for 13 years. She served on the Board of Directors for of the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization for 10 years and currently serves as an ambassador for the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce.

“Peoples’ Self-Help Housing’s Stuff the Bus campaign collects and distributes holiday gifts for low-income kids,” Schwab said. “This is always a challenge, but 2011 was a banner year due to the generosity of the community! For many of these children, these are the only gifts that they receive at this time of year.”

If you would like to donate, contact Monica Scholl at Peoples’ Self-Help Housing, 26 E. Victoria St. in Santa Barbara, at 805.962.5152 x220 or

Peoples’ Self-Help Housing provides affordable housing and programs leading to self-sufficiency for low-income families, seniors and other special-needs groups on California’s Central Coast. PSHH has developed and now manages over 1,350 affordable rental units in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties. It has also provided first-time homeownership opportunities for more than 1,150 working families. PSHH is the leading affordable housing developer on the Central Coast with offices in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo.

— Rochelle Rose is the fund development director for Peoples’ Self-Help Housing.