The holiday season is an excellent time for San Diegans to show appreciation for the men and women who serve in the armed forces as well as their families, many of whom will be on their own this holiday season.
Several local organizations offer specific programs to help service families celebrate the holidays. Each one has been vetted by The Patriots Connection, an arm of the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation that focuses on the military, so rest assured the organizations mentioned here and the others listed on their website can be relied upon to do the work they say they’re doing. And for those wondering about Christmas wish lists, bicycles are in high demand.
Spirit Of Sharing (S.O.S.) provides emergency-based assistance to active duty military families. Offering services throughout the year, S.O.S. operates a food bank and provides non-perishable food and other items such as diapers, wipes, and toiletries, but its Holiday Adoption Program is something special for the season. The goal is to provide each family with several weeks’ worth of groceries, including all the “holiday goodies” that make this such a special time of year. Each child in the family also receives an individually wrapped, age appropriate gift personally delivered by S.O.S. volunteers at Christmas. spiritofsharing.org
STEP, which stands for Support The Enlisted Project, provides assistance to junior enlisted service members and recently discharged families through counseling, education, and grants. During the holidays it also works to provide additional support, which includes a wish list given to the children of all families in the program. STEP’s vision is to change the lives of military and veteran families by helping them achieve financial self-sufficiency, but during the holidays it’s all about the gifts, and last year STEP was able to help more than 200 families celebrate the season. stepsocal.org/sharingthejoy
Camp Pendleton Armed Services YMCA’s Santa program matches local businesses, civic organizations, and community members with junior enlisted families in need of help during the holidays. In addition to supporting military families, it’s a wonderful opportunity for the community to show its appreciation for service members and their loved ones with toys and bicycles that top the wish lists of many military children this time of year. asymca.org/camp-pendleton-events
San Diego Armed Services YMCA’s Magical Holiday Party, which takes place December 12, is a special opportunity for military families raising a child with special needs to bond and celebrate together. On December 17, the Y’s Operation Holiday Joy is a chance for military families to shop at the Y’s toy store, where parents will be able to select two toys or a bicycle for each child. asymca.org/events-san-diego-1