Thanks to the Soroptimist International of Santa Clara Silicon Valley (SISCSV), it’s a happier holiday for 107 local families and their 275 kids and 35 grandparents, plus some single individuals. The thrifty Soroptimists know how to stretch a dollar. They shop the sales all year long to buy presents for local families needing outside help to put gifts under their Christmas trees.
The Soroptimists opened their annual Christmas store on Dec. 9, located this year at Pomeroy Elementary School, enabling pre-selected families to “shop” for family and children’s gifts that were displayed on long tables in the gym.
The parents signed up for a time slot and arrived without their children. Soroptimists donned reindeer ears or Santa hats and escorted the parents through the store. Each family received a $25 gift certificate for either Safeway or Target and got to select age-appropriate toys for their children. Wilcox High School students wrapped the toys.
“Wrapping gifts is simple, but it can help people feel good. And I feel good about helping them,” said senior Brandon T.
Each family also received a new blanket or comforter, toiletries, an emergency preparedness kit and a choice of either a slow cooker, a toaster oven or a 12-inch electric cooker. In “the bakery” shoppers picked up baked goods provided by Safeway and enjoyed a cup of coffee and a donut on the spot.
“Doing this makes me feel great,” said Soroptimist member Carole Sosinski. “I love the fact that it’s for our local citizens, our neighbors.”
The neighbors are those whose children attend Haman, Pomeroy and Scott Lane elementary schools in Santa Clara, some dialysis patients and homeless individuals.
“We really appreciate this. It helps us out a lot,” said Santa Clara parent Selina Guzman, shopping with her husband for their four children. “Now our kids have more things to open for Christmas.”
“It’s awesome,” said Julian Guzman.
“We’re helping people have a better Christmas with their families. Shopping at the Christmas store gives parents the dignity of being able to give to their children without feeling it’s charity,” said club president Marilee Dunn. “I feel very fortunate not to be in their situation. We’re very lucky that we’re able to take care of ourselves and our family.”
The Soroptimists funded their Christmas store using $15,000 from their general fund. In 2017, the service organization received funding from donors such as the Mission City Community Fund and Safeway, which contributed $5,000.
They raised money from food sales at the 2017 Santa Clara Art and Wine Festival. Their biggest fundraiser was their annual “Classy Bag Affaire,” a purse auction and lunch, scheduled in 2018 on Feb. 24.
The SISCSV, chartered in 1924, has 26 members. It meets the second Wednesday of the month, 6:30 p.m., at Mariani’s Inn & Restaurant, Santa Clara. For information, visit www.siscsv.com.
The Santa Clara club is part of Soroptimist International of the Americas (www.soroptimist.org), with nearly 1,275 clubs in 21 countries and territories, all working to improve the lives of disadvantaged women and girls.
“The Christmas store is a lot of work, but it’s worth it,” said past president Birdie Pacelli. “Before Christmas, we’ll have a party at my house to celebrate our success for the year in helping families in need.”