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“Adopt A Family” program providing gifts for families in need during holiday season

The spirit of giving was on full display at Santa Maria Fire Department headquarters Monday afternoon.

Several firefighters took time out of their day to wrap Christmas presents they had purchased through an annual holiday program organized by local non-profit organization, Child Abuse Listening Mediation (CALM).

“It means the world to each one of our members to be able to assist somebody in the community and meet the needs that they have this Christmas season,” said Santa Maria Fire Battalion Chief Mike Farmer.

Now in it’s 8th year, “Adopt A Family” provides over 1,000 children, parents and grandparents in Santa Barbara County with gifts during the holiday season.

“We sign up families that we’re working with who might be able to afford gifts for their children during the holidays,” said Sandra Fuhring, CALM North County Development Manager. “We have our staff create wish lists with those families. Things that they would really like that they would probably not be able to have and we ask people in the community to shop for those families.”

CALM works with more than 1,000 families each year. Clients include families going through traumatic times, that include child abuse and/or domestic violence.

“A lot of these families have lived in some sorrow in recent times and to be able to give their kids something that makes them smile during the holidays is so wonderful,” said Fuhring.

Brightening the holidays for these families are “Adopt A Family,” supporters, which includes Santa Maria City departments, service clubs, local organizations, church groups, area businesses and private families and individuals.

“It’s such a wonderful experience for them to experience kindness from a stranger,” Fuhring said. “From somebody in their community and I think it’s meaningful for our families to be able to see the joy on their children’s faces.

On Monday, Santa Maria firefighters wrapped gifts for the three families the department’s three separate shifts each adopted.

“They’ve all donated the money themselves, collected it,” Farmer said. “They’ve put all the hard work into it, done all the shopping themselves and now (they’re) wrapping all the gifts themselves.”

Also taking part in the program is the Santa Maria City Attorney’s Office. Employees with the department have participated in the program for three straight years.

“The community is such a wonderful community,” said Co-compliance supervisor Joy Castaing. W”e love Santa Maria and we just want to give back. It’s so nice to see so many other departments, we all participate. All city employees are just so excited to be a part of this.”

Fuhring said about 80 families in Santa Maria will receive gifts through the program. Twenty other families in the Lompoc area will also benefit from Adopt A Family.

“It’s great to see everybody working together and realize that our community knows it’s about helping one another and not about everybody’s individual interests,” Fuhring said.

For more information about the program, visit the “Adopt A Family” webpage.

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