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Caring Gifts Packed into Sweet Cases for Foster Kids

Chumash donation helps make life a little easier for children in transition

Team Chumash volunteer loads bags filled with everything from teddy bears to toothpaste.
Team Chumash volunteer loads bags filled with everything from teddy bears to toothpaste. (Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians)

With hopes of easing the often traumatic transitions for children in the foster care system, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians has donated 100 Sweet Cases to Santa Barbara County Child Welfare Services.

Comforting teddy bears headed for local children in foster system. Click to view larger
Comforting teddy bears headed for local children in foster system. (Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians)

Sweet Cases are a creation of the nonprofit Together We Rise.

Members of Team Chumash, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians’ volunteer group, participated in the Together We Rise Sweet Case program by decorating and filling the blue duffle bags with:

A teddy bear, blanket, coloring book, crayons, a hygiene kit and a Santa Ynez Tribal Health Clinic pouch, which contained toothpaste, dental floss, mouthwash and a pencil.

“This was an opportunity to put vital items in the hands of children in need,” said Kenneth Kahn, chairman of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians.

“We are proud to support the Together We Rise mission to create a better experience for foster children, and I’m personally proud of our volunteers who donated their time to make this gift possible for our county,” he said.

Gustavo Prado, a department business specialist for Santa Barbara County’s Adult and Child Services, said children enter the foster care system through no fault of their own, typically as a result of abuse, neglect or abandonment.

And often during the emergency of being separated from his or her family, the child enters foster care without the most basic items of necessity.

“These items donated by the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians to children in the foster care system in Santa Barbara County will not only meet the basic needs of children in care, but more importantly lets the child know that the members of our community care for his or her well-being,” Prado said.

On May 18, members of Team Chumash assembled at the Santa Ynez Tribal Hall to decorate and fill the Sweet Cases.

Volunteers also heard heartfelt speeches from Kim Davis, the executive director for CASA of Santa Barbara County, and Matt Pennon, a recruiter and trainer for Santa Barbara County Child Welfare Services.

“I was excited when I heard about this event,” Davis said.  “For people to come together, decorate these bags and fill them with things that will bring comfort to a child who’s hurting, I think that’s incredible.

"That’s really what our community should be about,” Davis said.

Some volunteers used stencils of cartoon characters and superhero logos to decorate the Sweet Cases, while others included messages of love and encouragement.

“For the kids, this is priceless,” Pennon said. “These kids are coming from a traumatic situation and being removed from their families. To have something that’s theirs and they can have ownership of is so important,

"When they see these Sweet Cases, they’ll know that there’s somebody out there who did something because they actually truly care,” Pennon said.

For more information on how to help local foster youth, visit or

The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians has donated more than $20 million to hundreds of groups, organizations and schools in the community and across the nation as part of the tribe’s long-standing tradition of giving.

— Veronica V. Sandoval for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians.

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