PRESS RELEASE / ANNOUNCEMENTS Wednesday, December 9, 2015

15th Annual Santa Ynez Valley Christmas Basket Program Will Support 156 Local Families in 2015

In 2014, donated Christmas Baskets filled the hall at Old Mission Santa Ines in Solvang.
Solvang, California— This year, the 15th annual Santa Ynez Valley Christmas Basket Program will give 156 local needy families a large hamper of food, staples and toiletries plus a big decorated box filled with wrapped presents for each family member, as well as a gift card for a local grocery store and fresh chickens donated by El Rancho Market plus toys donated from the Alexander family’s annual Christmas display.

The Christmas Basket Program is organized by volunteers from Old Mission Santa Ines, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church and Santa Ynez Valley Presbyterian Church along with support from hundreds of individuals and over 30 local businesses, churches and organizations. “We reach out to the community and ask them to help us convey the giving spirit of the season,” Christmas Basket Program director Genevieve Geyser said, “We want all local families to experience the magic of Christmas and this program provides a hand-up to struggling families.”

Christmas Basket recipients must be residents of the Santa Ynez Valley (Ballard, Buellton, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez, and Solvang). The program is open to families with minor children who are struggling financially and are unable to provide for their families at Christmas. Applications to participate in the program are available each October; reviewed by the volunteer committee and then families are notified of acceptance in early November. One family receiving a basket this year includes parents who are each working two jobs in Solvang, have three children (one with autism) and are challenged every day to provide the essentials. Another young mother with two sets of twins along with her construction worker husband stated, “It’s a great program! Everything they give helps out!”

The 2015 Christmas Basket Program is still in need of donations to cover the cost of the food in the hampers. All donations are tax-deductible and all funds go directly to help local Santa Ynez Valley families in Buellton, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez and Solvang. Checks may be made out to Old Mission Santa Ines, referencing 2015 Christmas Basket Program and mailed to 1760 Mission Drive, Solvang, CA 93463. People who have questions about contributing may contact program director Genevieve Geyser at (805) 688-2106 or

Tuesday, December 15, 2015:
What: Large stacks of food and gifts fill the church hall to the brim—and volunteers walking to and fro—will be available for photography; as well interviews with volunteers and coordinators. Twenty Santa Ynez Valley Charter School fifth-graders wearing elf hats will carry food items and fill baskets as part of their community service.
When: 12:45 p.m. Program coordinators will welcome all volunteers and school children.
1:00 p.m. Children will start filling bins for up to 1.5 hours
Where: Old Mission Santa Ines, 1760 Mission Dr., Solvang, CA 93463.

Friday, December 18, 2015:
What: 156 recipient families will pick up elaborately decorated gift boxes and food hampers distributed by number (not name) by volunteers.
When: Noon: The huge, stunningly decorated gift boxes will be available for photography in the Parish Hall.
1:00-5:00 p.m. Gift pickup (please respect the privacy of the recipients).
Where: Old Mission Santa Ines, 1760 Mission Dr., Solvang, CA 93463.

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