Solana Beach church gives to military families; wrapping day is Dec. 18


Gift wrapping on Dec. 18 at Calvary Lutheran Church is something to see.

Parishioners donate so many Christmas presents for local military families, and so many people gather to wrap the gifts, that the volunteers have to work in shifts.

This year, Calvary members have pledged presents for 159 children and adults in 32 Marine and Navy families in the county.

The big meeting room beneath the Calvary sanctuary will be a beehive of activity Dec. 18. Unwrapped presents will line all four walls. In the middle, teams of wrappers, some composed of entire families, will work at tables overflowing with colorful wrapping paper, tape, tissue and scissors. When they finish with one family’s gifts, they’ll go to the next.

It’ll be a full eight-hour workday for more than four dozen parishioners.

“It’s a long day, but everyone loves it,” said Susie Shattuck, who is heading the annual Calvary Christmas Angels program this holiday season. “The energy is so positive and we have Christmas music, refreshments and the camaraderie of shared work to keep everyone going.”

Church members say the big payoff for all their efforts comes the next morning when many of the same volunteers rise early to deliver carloads of toys, bicycles, books, Christmas dinner boxes and other presents.

“This is a key part of our Angel program,” said Shattuck. “The Calvary congregation wants to make personal connections with the military families we adopt and to deliver their warmth and gratitude along with the gifts.”

“In many of the families we adopt, a parent is deployed to a war zone, and maybe not for the first time,” she said. “We’re never certain exactly how the family is feeling or how we’ll be received.

“Sometimes the delivery visit is brief — the team drops off the gifts, exchanges Christmas greetings and then goes on to the next delivery. Other times, we’re invited in to play with the kids, hold the baby, walk the dog, bake cookies or help the family set up the Christmas tree.”

The church is at 424 Via de la Valle, in Solana Beach, just north of the San Diego County Fairgrounds. Visit