CARLSBAD — They came by the car load as volunteers handed out thousands of Christmas presents for those in need.
The Carlsbad Christmas Bureau shut down Tyler Street on Dec. 10 as it engaged in its 46th annual present drive at the Boys & Girls Club of Carlsbad.
Tracy Carmichael, president of the all-volunteer bureau, led the efforts as dozens of charitable residents and Santa Claus made Christmas a little more special for those struggling.
“We get family profiles, sizes and wish lists,” Carmichael said. It’s a minimum of two gifts per person (in the adopted family). And we also ask for gift cards for food.”
The bureau partners with numerous entities throughout the city to secure presents ranging from bikes to games and clothes. The process, meanwhile, began on Dec. 4 as volunteers dropped off gifts for five days leading into Saturday’s event.
Carmichael said those in need apply for assistance in October and are then vetted to ensure no one games the efforts. One of the big challenges, however, is finding gifts for children 12-18 years old. Nevertheless, donors came through with gifts for all ages.
In fact the gifts were so many, the gymnasium at the club was filled, but the “well oiled machine” of volunteers needed about only two hours to distribute.
The bureau gets a permit from the city to close down a section of Tyler Street to create a drive-thru. Cars pull up and the volunteers pack the designated boxes into the vehicles for seamless distribution.
The bureau’s outreach navigates through numerous entities such as the city, fire department, Carlsbad and Encinitas school districts, the Boys & Girls Club and homeowners associations, to name a few, she added.
“Social media has been really big for us,” Carmichael explained.
Suzanne O’Brien, secretary of the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) San Diego Chapter and owner of Metamorphysis Home Staging Services, has adopted families for the past 13 years, but this year the group got in the mix.
RESA San Diego formed earlier this year and through O’Brien’s previous participation, a number of RESA members joined the effort this year.
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.