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Rotary Club of Santa Barbara Supports Local Foster Teens During Holidays

For the seventh year, the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara has teamed up with the Santa Barbara Social Services Department and the Family Care Network to purchase holiday gifts for teenagers in the foster-care system.

The Rotary Club raised nearly $10,000 in November and December to purchase items and gift cards for more than 50 teenagers living in the Santa Barbara County foster-care system. Richard Slowikowski, general manager of the Kmart store in Goleta, aided in the effort by offering a discount on all items purchased in the store for the program. Together, the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara, Kmart and the Social Services Department have amassed gifts for the foster teens to receive during their annual holiday celebration.

“Each year, our Rotary Club supports young people who are in foster care in Santa Barbara County,” says Sandy Nordhal, committee chair for the Foster Teen Program. “Several years ago, when looking for a way to make a positive impact, we realized that teenagers and young adults in the foster care system seemed to be overlooked around the holidays. They are near emancipation and preparing to enter the Santa Barbara community as independent adults, and we wanted to make their holiday special. It is easy and fun to shop for toys for children, but finding the right gifts for older teens is a little more challenging. Our Rotarians are dedicated to the project, and we hope it makes a positive difference in these the lives of these young people.”

Shannon Bell, ILP supervisor for the Family Care Network, says, “Over the past seven years, the members of the Rotary Club have generously donated the perfect Christmas gifts to a large number of foster youth in the Independent Living and Transitional Housing programs in Santa Barbara County. The goal of each program is to provide services designed to develop life skills that teach youth how to live successfully on their own.

"The Christmas donations from the Rotary Club have become an integral part of their lives as the members ensure they are purchasing gifts that will support the youth towards becoming self-sufficient and independent — whether it’s an iPad to target the youth’s educational goals, to a complete set of storage containers to target organization. The youth receive gifts that are very specific to their needs, which makes their Christmas extra special! Every year the youth express an abundance of appreciation and gratitude to all of the amazing members of the Rotary Club, and on behalf of Family Care Network Inc. and the Independent Living Program, we thank you!”

Click here for more information about the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara’s holiday foster teen drive.

The Rotary Club of Santa Barbara meets at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort in Santa Barbara for lunch from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Fridays.

— Chris Clemens represents the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara.

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