By Christina Macone-Greene
CARLSBAD — Holiday cheer brimmed Dec. 10 as volunteers from the Carlsbad Christmas Bureau Adopt-A- Family Project made wishes come true.
This year, 453 adopted Carlsbad families requesting assistance motored to the Boys & Girls Club on Roosevelt Street and drove away with boxes filled with food, clothing and toys.
The number of needy families this holiday season was roughly the same as last year.
“There has always been a need, but certainly there has been a great need the past couple of years with the economy and what we do see are people who had never struggled before are struggling now,” said Phil Urbina, president of the Carlsbad Christmas Bureau Adopt-A-Family Project. “In this environment, we have people losing jobs that have been making a good living and now they are struggling.”
The organization was started by community leaders in 1970, but 18 years ago, it changed to the “Adopt-A-Family” format.
In mid-October, Urbina said, Carlsbad families needing assistance signed up. Forms were filled out and holiday wishes were listed. From there, the volunteers gathered businesses, schools and neighborhoods together to adopt families.
“Once they said they wanted to adopt a family, we sent them a profile of the family with their names and ages of the people in the family,” said Urbina, adding that clothes and shoe sizes were on the form.
Urbina gave a huge thanks to his long list of hundreds of donors, which included Booz Allen Hamilton, which adopted 25 families; Mission Estancia Elementary School, which adopted 14 families; Aviara Oaks Elementary School, which adopted 24 families; Pacific Rim Elementary School, which adopted 28 families; Hope Elementary School, which adopted 26 families; and TaylorMade, which adopted 25 families.
Others who took part in the donation were the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce; Legoland, who donated a van-full of toys; the Carlsbad Christian Assembly Church, which helped with family registration; and the city of Carlsbad.
“Mayor Matt Hall was out there at 6:30 in the morning with us helping us load up cars,” Urbina said. “We were really grateful for his help and it was a great thing to see.”
With the help of the city’s traffic control services, 450 families collected their holiday boxes in a total of three hours.
A week prior to the big distribution day, the Boys & Girls Club of Carlsbad opened the doors to their gymnasium so the Carlsbad Christmas Bureau Adopt-A-Family Project volunteers could get everything boxed and ready for pickup.
“If you’d like to see the true spirit of the season, come take a look at our gym when the Carlsbad Christmas Bureau ‘elves’ are in action,” said Pat Maldi, director of marketing and special events at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Carlsbad. “Kathy and Phil Urbina make a visible difference in the holidays of so many in the Carlsbad community and I applaud and admire their efforts.”
Urbina gave special nods to Clint Voltmer and Tracy Carmichael, who clocked in numerous warehouse hours organizing and auditing family boxes. A Carlsbad Hi-Noon Rotary Club member, Urbina also thanked his fellow rotary members who pitched in, as well. He estimated roughly 500 to 600 volunteer warehouse hours were donated to complete the annual project.
“It’s a great feeling to know that we are able to help out less fortunate families and help them to have a merry Christmas,” Urbina said. “It’s heartwarming to see community of Carlsbad come together.”
For more information, visit christmasbureau.org.