Donors step up to complete Holiday Basket event

Solana Beach resident Isabel Aguilar, 18, her mom and little sister walked into the Del Mar Fairgrounds thinking this would just be another year collecting gifts and supplies at the 27th annual Holiday Baskets Program.

What a surprise they were in for.
That’s because in addition to its recent $5,000 contribution to the Community Resource Center for the event, the city of Solana Beach decided to go a step further and sponsor one local participating family. So Aguilar and her relatives were quickly pulled off the check-in line and taken to the exit, where a fully loaded shopping cart of gifts was waiting for them.

“The economy is hard and our family works hard but we don’t really get what we want, and right here they helped us,” she said. “Right now that we got this surprise is pretty exciting.”

But the truth is there are roughly 1,300 other families from northern San Diego County that went home just as happy over the three-day event. With donated gifts ranging from clothes to food to blankets to athletic equipment, there is literally something for everybody.

Families with toddlers were able to find baby supplies, senior citizens could pick items tailored to them, and the same rules went for all ages in-between. Participants were able to apply for jobs and learn more about services available to them.

“Solana Beach may be an upscale community as well as Del Mar, but there are still many low-income families that live in their community,” said Laurin Pause, executive director of the Community Resource Center. “Our job at CRC is to get families stabilized and on their own.”

The inner concourse of the Del Mar grandstand looked more like an inviting department store than a place where people bet on horse racing.

“We call it a mini-mall with Wal-Mart,” Pause said.

But just days before the gift-giving festival, the economy seemed as if it was going to greatly limit the amount of items available. Pause said the money raised was 20 to 30 percent less than last year. Four days before the start, organizers were still down by several hundred items. Still, Pause said she never gave up hope, and just in time, donors stepped up to fill the void.

“A lot of people just say ‘Let me know at the end what you need and we fill it,’” Pause said. “I believe in human nature coming through and I’ve never been disappointed.”

Related posts:

  1. Holiday Baskets to serve record number
  2. CRC still needs donations
  3. Workshop uncovers holiday creativity
  4. Holiday Listings: Happy holiday, happy holiday
  5. Del Rayo to host holiday concert, festivities Dec. 10

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