The Coast News Group
CommunityRancho Santa Fe

‘Friends’ bring special holiday to foster teens

RANCHO SANTA FE — The Friends of San Pasqual recently held its holiday party with the school’s foster teens and wanted to express appreciation to everyone who has contributed to caring about the foster teens of San Pasqual Academy, and made them a priority.
Holidays are particularly stressful for foster teens, who are constantly reminded of not being in a traditional setting with family members. They have been placed under protective custody by the court for various reasons. Abuse, neglect and negative memories have been part of their lives.
At San Pasqual Academy, many of these foster teens are able to overcome this cycle of abuse and become productive adults. A special San Pasqual Academy family is created: one that provides stability, support, love and guidance. The volunteers of Friends of San Pasqual Academy are a key part of this support system. For more than nine years, the volunteers have been dedicated to providing positive experiences to these foster students.
The 150 foster teens of San Pasqual Academy celebrated the start of the holidays with a festive party for the students was held at the school, which is both home and school for the foster teens of San Diego County. Many individuals and organizations donated items and most importantly, their time and resources to make this holiday special.
The party began with each student receiving a special Christmas stocking that had their name on them. The stockings were filled with items that were collected and created by Ellie Cunningham and her many volunteers. Jim and Carey Cimino, through Wells Fargo Bank, purchased sweatshirts for each student that had the school logo, a dragon, on them.
National Charity League members, coordinated by Teri Summerhays, collected pajama pants, sugar cookies and other items for the teens. Christmas trees for each cottage were purchased by Friends of San Pasqual Academy. In addition, each student received a $100 gift card, made possible by the supporters of Friends of San Pasqual Academy. Donna Herrick collected many beautiful items from Sidestreet Boutique, a clothing store in South Lake Tahoe. Hundreds of socks were collected by Leslie Dwachinski.
During the party, it was announced that Marc and Patty Brutten purchased a iPod Nano and an iTunes card for every student. Carole and Ken Markstein donated a “Photo Booth” where students had their picture taken with their friends.
Monica Sheets coordinated a craft activity with the foster teens and created photo frames. Also adding to the fun was a cookie-decorating activity, organized, once again, by
Shelby Strong. She assisted the students in creating their own special holiday treats.
And of course, a favorite activity was “shopping” with each student and helping them select items that were collected by many donors.
The party ended with a raffle drawing organized by Ellie Cunningham. Many lucky teens received items that included sports jerseys, bikes, a Karaoke machine, clothing, jewelry, gift cards and other wonderful prizes that were donated by Cunningham.
Many thanks to the volunteers who assisted with the Holiday Party, which included Teri Summerhays, Julia Schloss, Monica Sheets, Donna Schempp, Kathi Mallick, Joan Kaestner, Lindy Bowman, Shelby Strong, Heidi Farkash, Marc Brutten, Patty Brutten, Helaine Silverstein, Stacy Snyder, Andrea Reynolds, Heidi Hollen, Donna Herrick, Kathy Lathrum, Joyce Hyman. Pat Coseo, Maria, Alquerra, Ellie Cunningham, Dagmar Helgager, Lindsay Cuker, Jennifer Nelson, Debby Syverson and Joan Scott.
The foster students expressed their gratitude and appreciation to all who made this possible.
For more information on Friends of San Pasqual Academy, which is a nonprofit 501 (c) 3 organization. Visit or call (858) 759-3298. Donations can be sent to Friends of San Pasqual Academy, P.O. Box 8202, Rancho Santa
Fe, CA 92067.