Just one of the Christmas Baskets delivered Christmas Eve

Up before chilly dawn, army of helpers delivers Rotary Christmas Baskets

December 30, 2009
Santa Paula News


“The volunteers, over 250 strong, got up early this morning to spread Christmas cheer to 500 needy Santa Paula families,” said Rotarian Scott Rushing, chairman of this year’s Christmas Basket program. “Many community groups and individuals braved the chilly 30-degree weather to make this Christmas a bit happier for the over 1,400 children receiving toys.”


Rushing said the “typical basket” delivered to the home of each pre-qualified recipient included a new toy “or two” for each child, “a stuffed animal or two, a rubber kickball, a board game,” as well as up to 25 cans of food, oranges, apples, onions, tangerines, lemons, avocados, 10 pounds each of rice, beans and potatoes, and two frozen chickens.

“The event truly was a team effort spearheaded,” said Rushing, “by the Rotary Club of Santa Paula. It took many weeks of volunteer energy and time in gathering food and toys, plus fundraising. “Although it was a lot of work” it was, he noted, “well worth the effort!”

Rushing said the canned food goal was 12,500, and although toy donations were lighter this year - expected in the still sluggish economy - the Rotary Club “purchased a large amount of toys from the Mattel Foundation at a significant discount, which was wonderful of them! The Marines Toys For Tots also contributed a large number of toys,” which Rushing picked up in Port Hueneme, closer than the trip to Los Angeles necessitated by the location of the Mattel Foundation warehouse. Rushing said the mail fundraising campaign was a “solid success” that exceeded the goal.

Truck loading at the Community Center started by 7 a.m., and dozens of vehicles carefully followed the most time-efficient route prepared by Rotarian Norm Wilkinson. “As usual it was a lot of work, but a lot of good volunteers pulled it off,” said Rushing.

Throughout the city various clubs and organizations, private groups, Scouts, individuals and school students spent more than a month collecting food, toys and other donations or flocked to the Community Center to prepare baskets, or even rode along early Christmas Eve morning to ensure everyone in Santa Paula would enjoy the holiday.

Even with some challenges, “I was confident this would be considered a successful Christmas Basket program, and it was for more than 500 area families who needed a little extra holiday cheer provided by the generous Santa Paula community and other supporters. It was,” noted Rushing, “a wonderful display of caring” and sharing reflecting the true spirit of Christmas.

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