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Santa Ynez Valley Christmas Basket Program Supporting 156 Local Families

In 2015, bountiful, donated Christmas Baskets filled the hall at Old Mission Santa Ines in Solvang.
In 2015, bountiful, donated Christmas Baskets filled the hall at Old Mission Santa Ines in Solvang. (Dan Quinajon photo)

The 16th annual Santa Ynez Valley Christmas Basket Program in 2016 is supporting 156 local needy families totaling 638 individuals, of whom 348 are children.

Each family will receive a large hamper of food, staples and toiletries as well as a big decorated box filled with wrapped presents for each family member, a gift card for a local grocery store, fresh chickens donated by El Rancho Market, plus toys donated from the Alexander family’s annual Christmas display at their Buellton home.

One family receiving a basket this year includes parents who are each working two jobs in Solvang, have three children (one with autism) and are challenged every day to provide the essentials.

The Christmas Basket Program is organized by volunteers from Old Mission Santa Ines, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church and Santa Ynez Valley Presbyterian Church along with support from hundreds of individuals and more than 30 local businesses, churches and organizations.

“We reach out to the community and ask them to help us convey the giving spirit of the season,” Christmas Basket Program director Genevieve Geyser said. “We want all local families to experience the magic of Christmas and this program provides a hand-up to struggling families.”

Christmas Basket recipients must be residents of the Santa Ynez Valley (Ballard, Buellton, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez and Solvang). The program is open to families with minor children who are struggling financially and are unable to provide for their families at Christmas. Applications to participate in the program are available each October; reviewed by the volunteer committee and then families are notified of acceptance in early November.

The 2016 Santa Ynez Valley Christmas Basket Program is still in need of cash donations to cover costs of the food in the hampers. All donations are tax-deductible and all funds go directly to help Santa Ynez Valley families. Checks may be made out to Old Mission Santa Ines, referencing 2016 Christmas Basket Program and mailed to 1760 Mission Drive, Solvang, CA 93463. People who have questions about contributing may contact Geyser at 805.688.2106 or [email protected].

— Genevieve Geyser is director of the Santa Ynez Valley Christmas Basket Program.

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