Following in the footsteps of St. Nicholas — a wealthy man who, according to legend, secretly relieved those facing misfortune and poverty — every year Soroptimist International of Santa Clara Silicon Valley (SISCSV) shares the bounty of Silicon Valley to brighten the holidays for families.
For nearly 40 years, the service club’s annual holiday “store” plays Santa Claus to Santa Clara families who couldn’t otherwise afford holiday festivities; delighting children with toys and making the lives of their families a little more comfortable. This year, 110 families – and 285 children – went “shopping” at Scott Lane Elementary School.
Children picked out toys, while parents chose from blankets, small appliances, tableware and other household merchandise. Each family received gift certificates and kids from 14 to 17 received $25 gift cards.
“The Christmas Store brings joy and cheer to the preselected families, as 72% of our students are part of a lunch program,*” said Scott Lane Secretary Anai Arias Cortes, who, with school clerk Veronica Zepeda, helped distribute gifts. “Any help they can get is most welcome. It’s heartening to see the smiles and joy on the faces of the families as they go home with big bags of goodies.”
Rene Mendoza, who received an SISCSV Live Your Dream award in 2020 and is the mother of two, appreciated continued support from the club.
“I am grateful to Soroptimist for continuing to nurture the past winners,” she said. “As I am still finishing my Justice study at San Jose State, any help I can get is much appreciated. My kids will be much delighted with these wonderful Christmas gifts.”
It takes a small army of volunteers to make the annual event happen.
Members, friends and Los Altos High School students shopped for gifts. ADC Engineering employees volunteered their time at the store. Marilee Dunn and Norma Elena Rios co-chaired the event, as they have done for several years.
The holiday store is funded by proceeds of the Soroptimist’s Annual Classy Bag Affaire, a grant from the Mission City Community Fund and donations from supporters and members.
New club member, Wendy Hower was enthusiastic about the day’s activities.
“As a new member of Soroptimist, participating in the Christmas store has been the highlight of my holiday season,” said Hower. “I’ve always wanted to do more in the community but didn’t know how to get started. Soroptimist makes it easy — and fun — to help others in our local community. Plus, I’ve met women who have become friends.”
The next Classy Bag Affaire will be Saturday, May 20, 2023 at Santa Clara Marriott. For more information about SISCSV, visit siscsv.com or call (408) 838-5254.
*The number of students who qualify for state-subsidized lunches is the measure of low-income students in schools.