The Coast News Group

Families continue tradition of giving

LA COSTA — More than 100 merry and generous friends, neighbors and family attended the seventth annual La Costa Families Christmas Fundraiser at the home of Lance and Susan Wankier Dec. 2, again gathering much-needed items for homeless teens and families in need.For the Wankiers and their friends, the holiday season is kicked off by this annual event of community generosity. Every year, a bare tree is placed in the home, and as each guest arrivew, they place their ornament on the tree. The entire tree, with all the decorations, is donated to a local family, along with gift cards for Target, Albertson’s and other local stores, as well as gifts of clothing and food. This year, it was a single mother with a teenage son and daughter who received the tree and gifts anonymously.

For the past two years, an additional fundraising focus has been Storefront, the only homeless shelter for teens in San Diego County. Guests brought an enormous amount of supplies to put together blanket kits, which are handed out to teens living on the street throughout the year. Items inside the blanket kit include a sweatshirt, scarf, gloves, socks, toiletries, cough drops, candy, granola bar, juice box, shampoo, lotion and toothbrushes. Flashlights, batteries and a stuffed animal, as well as gift cards were also included. The blanket is wrapped around these items, and “tied” with bungee cords, so that the youngsters can use every item of their package. Jan Stankus, director of Storefront, which is run by San Diego Youth Services, said that the teens truly value the blanket kits, and are amazed that there are people in their town who care about them. Thirty-one blanket kits were put together, with enough supplies for at least 10 more if they hadn’t run out of sweatshirts. More than $400 worth of gift cards were donated for a warm meal at McDonald’s and personal items from CVS.

As the event grows every year, companies support the efforts of this group of volunteers. En Fuego Cantina of Del Mar donated the food for the party and winter scarves and hats were donated by a local sporting goods store. If you would like to donate goods, artificial Christmas trees or other items for next year’s fundraiser, contact Susan Wingate-Wankier at (760) 390-3850.