Soroptimist Secret Santa's Deliver
Last updated 12/31/2020 at 12:29am
The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown didn’t keep Santa Claus from coming to town. Santa’s Borrego friends collected and delivered big boxes of food and overflowing gift baskets containing $100 in Soroptimist Secret Santa cash to needy families on Dec. 18 and 19.
People responded generously to the $100 Soroptimist Secret Santa request with enough funds to meet the goal of brightening Christmas for 18 families with cash and bas-kets of gifts and food for the families of women, who are the primary providers for their families, and have lost jobs due to the pandemic, care for an elderly, or ill parent, and have children of their own.
The women were identified by Borrego organizations, like the Borrego Ministers Association that have been assisting families, as families relying on charity, and the Borrego Food Bank to get through these challenging times. Dubbed the “shecession” by experts for the disproportionate impact the pandemic-led recession has had on housing, unemployment and childcare for working women. Women working heads of households, earning hourly wages have been the hardest hit by closures of restaurants, hotels, and other low paying jobs. In May, unemployment rates for women were up 1,368 percent over the previous year, making up 80 percent of all workers who have been dropped from the workforce.
An example of a family that received Secret Santa gifts is headed by a single mother, who is not able to work. She has no family nearby; lost her car temporarily; has three young children, including one that is a year old, and is pregnant with another child on the way.
Soroptimist Secret Santa teams collected donations, packaged and wrapped baskets, and delivered to 18 homes, who like this example, are the primary wage earners, and facing difficult pandemic-related financial situations. The Secret Santa gifts were supplemented with generous donations from the Food Bank.
“We couldn’t believe how quickly people responded with $100 Secret Santa donations. It was just a two-week campaign. Even though it’s a less than normal Christmas for everyone, people realized that for some the holidays were going to be harder than usual. Just goes to show how folks in Borrego respond to neighbors in need,” said Judy Stewart, Borrego Springs Soroptimist president. “A special thanks to the organizations and businesses that contributed. We are very grateful for everyone’s generosity.”
The collection point, Ellen Fitzpatrick’s Graphics You Can Trust storefront in The Mall, was filled with donated items for the gift baskets such as 30 children’s Spanish and English read-ing books from the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association (ABDNHA).
Additional business donations included, $50 Frugal Coyote gift certificates from the Ministers Association; the Palms at Indian Head gave $10-gift certificates; packages of fudge from the Fudge Factory; the 18 baskets and Saran wrap came from the Frugal Coyote; Borrego Outfitters provided Olive oil and Jelly. The baskets contained gifts from Borregans, like Beth Hart, who donated Beanie Bag toys. Gifts from Soroptimist members, and other individuals included art supplies, stuffed animals, baked cookies, children’s toys, socks, masks, soap, toothpaste, sanitizers, and other household items.
“It was like magic. People kept popping in with money and gifts, and to help. In the very best tradition of giving, the store was totally brimming with Christmas spirit and love,” Fitzpatrick said.
According to Fitzpatrick, a “show stopper” was the big box of food, collected and contributed by the Food Bank supporters.
“We want to thank Anne and Jim Wermers for the space in The Mall to store and package food, the Fredericks family, and all the volunteers for inspiring this ongoing In addition to the Food Bank’s usual selection of canned goods, eggs, tortillas, beans, and milk, there was a special holiday surprise – a large turkey, or ham in each box delivered with the Soroptimist Secret Santa cash and gift baskets.
According to one Soroptimist Secret Santa, the best part of the contribution campaign was deliver-ing to the homes; witnessing the excitement of the children seeing the gift baskets, and the tearful gratitude of many moms.