Sunday, December 20, 2015

• VFW Christmas Baskets 2015

A year's worth of fundraisers, comes down to two days of work, to provide Christmas cheer for 50 local families at Wildomar VFW Post 1508.

Merry Christmas from VFW Post 1508.

Operation Santa's Wrappers, or so I'm calling it, as seen at about 10:30am Saturday. The bags in the center are of the unwrapped gifts for each family. Many of Santa's helpers work long hours to get them all wrapped. Afterward the room was all dolled up... Christmas style.
Gift wrapping for 50 families, was an all day task for many volunteers. 

The room that usually is home to hungry diners at steak night, or crooners when they're having karaoke, was transformed into a cornucopia with several large tables holding the food for many local families.
The food was distributed to various stations, awaiting teams of volunteers to get them ready for the families.

Items of food that each family got included a good sized turkey, a ham, eggs, bread, milk, butter, potatoes, stuffing, essentially everything you need to make a great Christmas dinner. Then there were even a few extra items like tuna, peanut butter, cereal, among other things.
Bridgette Moore and Janna Vicario busy wrapping gifts the day before.
I had the privilege of wrapping gifts for one family on Saturday. What a delight it was to put faces to the names Gianni, Mikayla and Lila when I saw family #4 walk into the Santa Room.

The families are chosen through the school district's SAFER (Student And Family Essential Resources) program. They interview every family and make sure they only go to one organization for donations. Two families nearly made it all the way through the vetting process before they were disqualified due to improper paperwork (no signatures, which is a red flag).

Sadly, one family had an emergency where there had been a gas leak in their home and an explosion occurred injuring the father. The VFW is holding their gifts, and food, for them and they'll still be getting them in time for Christmas.
Sunday morning before the first family arrived. You'll notice the 47 bags of wrapped gifts lining the wall.

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To get the money for this event,  there were various fundraisers throughout the year, put on by the Men's Auxilliary. They included a bus trip to Harrah's Casino, several steak nights and Monday Night Football BBQs.
A look at a happy family having their picture taken photographer Richard Deskin, with their food in the foreground.

Ina Schieffer was the driving force of this event, and she shopped for every individual family. Each child got at least two gifts and each family got a group gift, usually a board game or something else they could all do together. They also got a group shot with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
About half way through the day there was a lull in the action, and we were able to get a snapshot of the volunteers.
There were about 25 volunteers who either helped wrap gifts, organize the food, pack the food, greet the families, help with photos, bake cookies, pour chocolate milk, and about a dozen other things.
Hands down the cutest of the volunteers. ☺

What a great honor to volunteer alongside many members of the VFW. Things really went very smoothly, which is a testament to how much planning was involved. 

Many hands made the work a breeze... except for where I made one of the tables collapse that had a family's food on it. Luckily, no harm came to the food... not even a single egg broke.

In no time flat they replaced the table that had the trick leg with a sturdier one.

I was given a copy of the list of volunteers and sponsors that each family got. I'd love to name each and every one of them, but they didn't do it for the accolades. Plus, it's a very long list. You know who you are, and you all showed such great teamwork.

If you'd like to help sponsor this event next year, either as a business or an individual, or you'd like to donate time or money, please get in touch with Ina Schieffer at 951 265-9026.

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Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!
― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

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