You often tend to think of charitable efforts at this time of the year as something you see other people doing on television, or read about in the paper, and you think, “that’s nice that people do that for others.”
Then you go back to whatever you were doing.
It’s a whole lot different when you are in the middle of 150 people of all ages, giving up part of their holidays to make sure those less fortunate have a somewhat better Christmas.
That’s where I found myself Wednesday afternoon- in an empty warehouse in Santee, watching loading up food and toys for 251 families.
Think about that.
251 families, many with little children, being saved from the bleakest of Christmases because a group of people got together 58 years ago- and somehow kept this going through all the ups and downs of the economy, through wars, through every kind of adversity you can think of- they kept it going.
It wasn’t easy this time around.
Sam Modica, Seceretary of the Board of the Santee Santas Foundation, said donations of food and money were down.
“Last year, we had 210 families ask for help. This year, we have 251, even though donations were about $6,000 less than last year.”
How did he get this covered?
“Well, the other day, I went and spent a little over $7,000 to buy things we still needed” , Sam said.
Over the past few years, Sam has noticed a change in the clientele, if you will.
“We didn’t used to have that many senior citizens asking for help, but that number has gone up lately. I’m not sure whether it’s that they didn’t know they were eligible, or whether they’re just realizing they need more help than they thought they would.”
As the fleet of privately owned cars and trucks were loaded up, mostly by hard-working , and rolled out to their destinations, I fell in line behind , incoming President of the .
We swung by to pick up the toys for our first family, and we were off to an apartment off Woodside Avenue.
The family there spoke very little English- but had a lot of need.
Sometimes, you can read gratitude in peoples’ eyes- you don’t really need the spoken word.
Delivery number two was at an apartment complex just off Mission Gorge Road.
There, a woman and her daughter, a family whom life hasn’t treated so well, said she’s been taking part in this since her child was born, at least 18 years ago.
“Yes, it does help make Christmas a little better... a little nicer. It’s not easy out there. We’re really grateful for the help.”
It all makes you stop and think, doesn’t it?
All those years in television that I covered these kinds of stories, I admit I often didn’t think that deeply about it all.
But being in the middle of it makes it sink in more; it makes you wonder why this happens to people.
What you don’t wonder about is the motive of the people in Santee Santas.
It’s real simple- there are people out there who need help- and there are people in Santee Santas able to give that help.
Thank God for them.