Unity has a Toy Shoppe where qualifying families can shop for children’s holiday gifts.

Unity has a Toy Shoppe where qualifying families can shop for children’s holiday gifts. (Courtesy phto)

Unity Shoppe will be opening its doors early for holiday services this year. The rapidly rising costs of gas and basic food staples have created an unprecedented need for Unity’s programs.

The organization has experienced a staggering 350% increase in demand for services since 2019 and expects that number to rise again over the holiday season. Expanding service hours ensures critical programs are readily accessible to everyone in need.

Beginning Nov. 1, the Client Services Center will be open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday, with Saturday service hours being added for December. In addition to food distribution, Unity also has a Toy Shoppe where qualifying families shop for children’s holiday gifts.

Anyone in need of food support or other holiday assistance can contact their case worker, school administrator, or house of worship to receive a referral for services. For more information, visit UnityShoppe.org and click on How To Access Our Services.

There are a number of ways to help your local community during the holiday season. The Marine Reserves appreciate the manner in which Unity provides toys to economically disadvantaged families and their children, and has chosen Unity Shoppe as their preferred distributor in south county.

Donations of new, unwrapped toys can be dropped off at a local collection site. Community support of this program stocks the shelves of Unity’s Toy Shoppe, offering hope and cheer to disadvantaged children in our area.

KSBY has partnered with local food banks, fire stations, and CHP offices to create the largest food and toy drive on the central coast. Now in its 11th year, Season of Hope works to brighten the holidays for those in need.

Donations of non-perishable food and new, unwrapped toys can be dropped off at any partner location. All donations stay on the Central Coast.

Community members are urged to donate their time and resources to help brighten the holidays for our under-resourced neighbors.

“The holidays are the time for giving,” said in-coming executive director, Angela Miller-Bevan. “We are so grateful for how much the Santa Barbara Community rallies to help Unity Shoppe be successful with our mission.”

Donations of food, warm clothing, and personal care items are accepted at the Client Services Center, 1401 Chapala St., Santa Barbara.

A team of volunteers in the Senior Resource Center works to assemble some 3,000 gift boxes for local congregate care facilities. The needs and preferences of each resident are identified, custom gift boxes are curated for each recipient, and the wrapped presents are delivered in time for Christmas.

Donations of new tube socks, robes, and toiletries for seniors should be taken directly to the Senior Center, located in the back of the Unity Thrift Shoppe, 1209 State St.

Individual volunteers and team-building groups are invited to register for shifts in two-hour increments, 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Monday through Friday for November, with Saturday scheduling in December. For more information, email Volunteer@UnityShoppe.org.

Unity Shoppe’s primary fundraising event is an annual Holiday Telethon. Unity in Our Community will be celebrated with a live broadcast on KEYT, 5-8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9. This community event highlights the giving spirit of the season, entertains viewers with celebrity surprises, and urges everyone to give generously.

“The spirit of the holidays always brings the awareness of all we are so grateful for — even our collective ability to provide for those that are struggling — some having more difficulty at this time of year. Together we can make a huge difference,” said Tom Reed, executive director.

Unity Shoppe, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) dedicated to providing our local residents impacted by temporary conditions of poverty, disaster or health-related crises free vital resources and programs that enhance human dignity and encourage self-sufficiency. All donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.