Holiday Happiness For All

Holiday Happiness For All

For most of us, the holiday season is one of the busiest yet happiest times of the year, a time for planning family get togethers, decorating our homes and tackling our gift lists. But domestic abuse is not a seasonal issue, and the shelters at DVS are often overwhelmed with even more new residents, especially at this time of year.

Many people have been compassionately drawn to help DVS over the holidays, with at least four parallel volunteer groups striving to ensure that all the families at the DVS shelters experience some joy over the holiday season. Members of the annual Springtime Committee, the Special Sisters, The 3 Wishes Candy Cane program and The Unitarian Society have provided everything from Christmas trees and decorations to gifts and holiday meals to shelter families.

Holiday Happiness For All Past Co-President Claudette Roehrig was first introduced to the needs and programs of DVS when past Board Member Kathy Borgers explained DVS' mission. Claudette was so touched, she immediately launched The 3 Wishes Candy Cane program. All the children at the shelters were asked which three things they wanted for Christmas. Claudette attached one wish per candy cane with the child's first name, gender and age and distributed them in three different places she visited most often – her gym, her hair salon and her horse boarding facility.

 

Holiday Happiness For All The participants put the candy cane on their wrapped presents, and Claudette and her family made sure the gifts were delivered to the shelters. This program was received most generously by the participants. The Roehrig family and many enthusiastic participants have provided amazing gifts including bikes, clothes, dolls, and iPods.

 

Holiday Happiness For All Another ongoing program was started by former Board Member Sally Hamilton who for many years has coordinated gift giving with her church, The Unitarian Society. Each year she asks Bonny for individual gift wishes for women and children and gets the word out for others to buy, wrap and deliver the gifts to the shelter the Sunday before Christmas. One year Sally delivered nearly 80 gifts!!

 

Holiday Happiness For All Longtime Springtime and Emeritus Board member Susannah Rake rallied fellow Springtime committee members to arrange for local Christmas tree lot owners to, at first, offer discounts or donate Christmas trees to the shelters. For the past four years, and currently, the local Prudential California Realty offices have generously embraced the Christmas tree donation program.

Other Springtime members including Laurie Tilson and her Special Sisters provided decorations, holiday meals and personally selected gifts.

 

Holiday Happiness For All It is Claudette's belief that people want to give and these programs make it easy and possible. Many participants have felt a connection to a child or family even though they have never met.

 

Holiday Happiness For All Sometimes people pick a family who resembles their own – a boy and a girl who might be about the same age as their own children. It has been extremely rewarding and challenging for all involved to make sure every wish is granted, since there can be up to 21 families housed at the shelters in Santa Barbara at any one time, and last minute check-ins are common during the stressful holiday period.

 

Holiday Happiness For All The Lompoc and Santa Maria shelters house an additional 20 families, and they too would greatly benefit from our generosity.