Thursday, February 22 , 2018, 1:23 am | Fair 39º

 
 
 
 
Advice

CoastHills Credit Union Employees Donate Over 220 Gifts to Santa Maria Teens

From left, CoastHills Credit Union Culture Advisory Team members Lisa Ma’a, Amanda Hollingworth, Araceli Solorio, Deyanira Garcia, Kelly Mathews, Carolina Cazares and James Thomas. Click to view larger
From left, CoastHills Credit Union Culture Advisory Team members Lisa Ma’a, Amanda Hollingworth, Araceli Solorio, Deyanira Garcia, Kelly Mathews, Carolina Cazares and James Thomas.  (CoastHills photo)

What started as a small-scale gift-giving drive at CoastHills Credit Union blossomed into a company-wide effort that made a big difference for kids in four Central Coast communities this holiday season. 

At a staff meeting this past week that gathered all credit union employees from each of 11 branches from Paso Robles to Lompoc, the CoastHills Culture Advisory Team (CAT) collected more than 220 new, unwrapped presents and gift cards for local underprivileged youth.

The presents were delivered to Boys and Girls Club sites in Oceano, Guadalupe, Santa Maria and Lompoc.

It was the first time the credit union has attempted a gift drive of this magnitude, but the idea started within the consumer loans department at the corporate headquarters in Vandenberg Village.

Last year, employees in the department heard of a local homeless shelter in need of gifts for children spending the holiday there. CoastHills employees pooled their money and delivered a truck full of gifts and stuffed stockings. That drive inspired CAT members to think bigger this year.

“We have such dedicated and giving co-workers, we knew it would be a terrific idea to expand the concept company-wide,” said CAT co-chairperson Christina Tonoli. “We couldn’t be happier with the turnout, and it’s heartwarming to know how many kids we made a difference for this holiday season.”

All gifts were purchased and donated directly by CoastHills employees. The drive encompassed all ages but also placed a special emphasis on teens, an age group that is typically underserved in holiday gift drives.

Many of the children served by the two sites overseen by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Maria Valley — at Mary Buren Elementary in Guadalupe and on Railroad Ave. in Santa Maria — do not experience the typical Christmas. Some do not celebrate the holiday for socioeconomic reasons, said Executive Director Jeremy L. Deming.

“We had two different parties, one for each site, and the kids really had no expectations of getting gifts,” Deming said, “but the fact that they walked away with a bag full of gifts and treats, that was priceless. This community is one of the most giving, charitable communities I’ve ever had the pleasure of living in, and CoastHills is the perfect example of that spirit of generosity and giving. It’s just a wonderful relationship that we cherish.” 

— Joshua D. Scroggin is the social media officer for CoastHills Credit Union

 
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