CARLSBAD — For the past 49 years, the Carlsbad Christmas Bureau has been lending a helping hand to less fortunate families.
And this year is no different as the bureau and its volunteers worked diligently Dec. 14 to pass out gifts to 405 families through its “Adopt-a-Family” program Dec. 14 at the Boys & Girls Club of Carlsbad in the Village, said President Tracy Carmichael.
For Maria Anguiano, the program is the only way she, her sister and brother’s children can have a Christmas. Holding back tears, she described how times have been tough, but there always has been a more fortunate family willing to “go above and beyond” for the six kids.
“It feels good to make everyone in my family happy,” Anguiano said. “It doesn’t even matter what it is. It’s just them (the kids) opening it and having something on Christmas. Sometimes they don’t understand we struggle and we can’t give them everything they want.”
This year, though, Anguiano said she nearly missed the chance to be part of the program. When they register in October, each family is given a card as proof of their need and number associated with the boxes delivered by volunteers.
However, the card was with her sister, who was in Los Angeles, and her car was towed, thus leaving the family in a panic. Carmichael stepped in and took care of the issue causing Anguiano to fight back tears as she was so thankful.
Volunteers then packed her truck with several boxes stuffed with presents and three bikes for the kids.
“This is our Christmas,” Anguiano said. “I was freaking out and if we don’t have this, we don’t have anything. This is all I have to give my family. I’m thankful for people like Tracy.”
Carmichael said this year the Carlsbad Christmas Bureau served 2,053 people, more than 1,100 children and donated 258 bikes with each family receiving an average of three boxes of presents. And on Dec. 6 and Dec. 7, the Carlsbad Firefighters Association Local 3730 scoured six neighborhoods taking in countless donations.
The Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce also donated gifts, while Bikes in the Barrio donated 110 bicycles, Carmichael said. The Carlsbad Unified School District adopted 130 families, with four private schools adopting as well, she said.
As for the volunteers, dozens ramp up their efforts starting in October with the culmination in December.
Roger Roberson, who has played Santa Claus for the past four years, said he first signed on to give himself something to do after his wife’s passing. But since then, each year has brought a sense of community as he is the first line for those car lined down Tyler Street.
Roberson said he and his two “elves” pass out unwrapped toys and candy canes. His favorite part is lighting up the faces of the kids waiting to see Santa.
“You get to see a smile,” Roberson said of the kids. “It’s just amazing that you would think that many people need help. There’s just so many families.”
Carlsbad Christmas Bureau board members Christine Adams, Ellen Larson and Billy Purdy all said the yearly event brings so much to the families and the city. Purdy said he can see what it means to those less fortunate from their expressions.
Adams and Larson, who are sisters, said families tear up, hug the volunteers and give them as much as they give them. Carmichael said it makes all the difference for those in need.
“I think it makes a difference in their life,” she said. “A majority of them are working and they just need a little help throughout the holidays. It really warms my heart to know we’re making a difference in our community.”