The Sun genie helps local nonprofits get their wishes granted

The Sun genie helps local nonprofits get their wishes granted

Genies are mythical creatures most people associate with warm Arabian nights, not sparkling evergreen trees and the hustle and bustle of the holidays. But this year, the Sun staff decided that now is the perfect time to pull the cork on the genie bottle and grant some local nonprofits’ wishes, big and small.

So take a couple of minutes to peruse the following wish lists to see where you can lend a helping hand to some very noble causes.


Growing Grounds Farm, Santa Maria

Located off of West Foster Road in Santa Maria, Growing Grounds Farm is the perfect place to pick up some delicious veggies or a bouquet of beautiful flowers, and help local residents with mental illness receive work experience and horticultural therapy!

“We're always using up and/or ruining tools here so we'd love garden hoes, loppers, hand pruners, [and] steel rakes,” program manager Ariela Gottschalk told the Sun in an e-mail.

They’d also like a garden bench because, as Gottschalk said, “It’s always nice to have a comfortable spot to sit out in the garden.”

And while it’s cold outside right now, the gardeners are going to need some E-Z Ups to provide shade from the hot sun while working in the summer.

Last, but not least, Gottschalk said, “Our chickens are always hungry. We'd like to keep them well fed, [so] some GMO-free chicken feed would do the trick.”


Community Partners in Caring

The Sun genie helps local nonprofits get their wishes granted

This group is requesting donations to help provide area seniors with services that allow them to continue living independent and enjoyable lifestyles. These free, volunteer-provided services include door-through-door transportation to medical appointments, shopping, and errands; home repairs; yard work; friendly visits; respite care; reassurance callers; and paperwork assistance.

According to nonprofit leaders, in the last fiscal year, Community Partners in Caring served 396 seniors 4,586 times. Volunteers drove 57,281 miles and donated 4,191 hours of service in the Santa Maria, Lompoc, and Santa Ynez valleys.

For more information, or to make a donation, call 925-8000 (Santa Maria), 737-1976 (Lompoc), or 688-1100 (Buellton), or visit,, or


The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County

One of the best things about the holidays is the delicious food that comes with the season! Everyone loves cooking—or at least eating—dishes that come from a beloved family recipe or a crazy concoction from The Food Network. Sadly, not everyone can afford groceries during this time of the year or the whole year ’round. 

That’s where the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County steps in, donating millions of meals to people in need each year—for free.

“A gift of food, funds, or volunteer assistance will impact one out of every four people in the county. Talk about a great value!” development manager Judith Monte said in an e-mail. “Here’s how it works: You give a cash gift and we partner it with major food donations for eight meals worth of food for every $1 given.”

Monte said gifts given in honor of special people are readily recognized and a great way to honor the person who has everything.  People can also play Santa by donating non-perishable food through a food drive, corporate challenge, or the like.

And people who are short of cash but willing to give their time can volunteer.

“We like to match people’s interests, skills, and availability with an appropriate need for a win-win relationship,” Monte said, adding that tasks include everything from handling food to administrative duties to event planning.

The Foodbank also needs a large off-site dry goods and cooler/freezer to periodically store large donations from corporations and the government.

For more information, or to make an online donation, visit, or call Monte at 937-3422, Ext. 106.


The Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum

The Sun genie helps local nonprofits get their wishes granted

For this year’s Wish List, Santa Maria Discovery Museum Executive Director Chris Slaughter submitted her own version of the holiday classic, “The Twelve Days of Christmas”:

Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum Wish List Remix

On the 12th day of Christmas, a donor gave to me:

  • Twelve family memberships
  • Eleven science lab kits
  • Ten volunteers
  • Nine bins of craft loot
  • Eight handy men (or women)
  • Seven packs of print ink
  • Six scrubbing cleaners (plus a vacuum)
  • $5,000!
  • Four new exhibits
  • Three preschool books
  • Two picnic tables …
  • and a 3-D printer with a year’s supply of printing materials

Visit for more information.


Court Appointed Special Advocates of Santa Barbara County

The No. 1 wish at Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is to have lots of volunteers join their ranks.

Executive Director Kim Davis told the Sun in an e-mail that she needs to have “more community-minded people who care about children volunteer with CASA.”

A CASA undergoes training to represent a child in the Santa Barbara County Superior Court System by spending time with him or her and reporting back to the judge the child’s needs and other valuable information. CASAs help the county’s most vulnerable population get reunited with their families or placed in new, loving families.

Training classes will start in January in Santa Maria and Lompoc.

For those who don’t have time to volunteer, Davis said there’s still plenty to do:

  • Donate $5 or $10 gift cards for any type of activity that our volunteers can do with kids, such as food (Panera, Starbucks, Subway, Taco Bell, and McDonalds are some favorites) or activities (movies, roller skating, and tickets to PCPA are at the top of the list).
  • CASA is also looking for a larger training/meeting space. Davis said an organization or business that has space that can be used for free would be fabulous.
  • CASA also needs $50 gift cards to local stores (Target, Walmart, Sears, Kohls, TJ Maxx, Macy’s, etc.) that volunteers can use to get a special birthday gift for their assigned children.

For more information, visit


Lions Sight Conservation Foundation of Santa Maria

The Sun genie helps local nonprofits get their wishes granted

Want to make someone roar with delight this holiday season? Consider making a donation to the Lions Sight Conservation Foundation of Santa Maria. The foundation assists low-income residents with the cost of eyewear, doctors, medical procedures, and travel expenses for surgery performed out of town. Volunteers also help local school nurses perform state-mandated vision screenings. The Lions screen more than 6,000 students each year.

“Lions Clubs International has more volunteers in more places than any other service club organization in the world,” said Laura Selken, a member of the Santa Maria Noontimers Lions Club, in an e-mail. “Our focus locally and internationally is on assisting those who are visually impaired, but we also help with other needs of the community.”

There are four Lions clubs in the Santa Maria/Orcutt area, and they all support the Lions Sight Conservation Foundation.

This year, the foundation could use:

  • used eyeglasses and hearing aids
  • gift baskets and/or gift cards for fundraising purposes
  • sponsors for various sporting tournaments, especially a blind golf tournament
  • floor stands for various banners
  • laptop computer
  • more donations, volunteers, and members
  • people can also buy enchilada dinners for the LSCFSM fundraiser on Jan. 25.

For more information, call Selken at 406-9989.

A few more wishes …

Here are some other organizations that could use your help:

• The Santa Maria Valley Humane Society needs pet food, toys, and more (349-3435;

• Altrusa International of the Central Coast is asking for new and gently used children’s books, storage space, and more ([email protected]; 406-9989).

• The North Santa Barbara County Manufactured-Homeowners Team could also use storage space, a laptop, and free or reduced-price web design ([email protected]; 406-9989).

• The Dunes Center in Guadalupe is raising money for climate control upgrades (an HVAC system) and archival materials (special boxes and packing material) to house some of the Ten Commandments pieces in the organization’s collection (343-2455;


Contact Managing Editor Amy Asman at [email protected].

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