Teens Take The Lead In Festive Community Service

The Pickleball Club at Bishop Diego High School conducted a fundraiser for the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County (Photo: courtesy)

While nonprofits are dedicated to giving back all year round, the holiday season is the most critical in terms of the philanthropy they require and the services they provide.  From community engagement to individual initiatives, teens are making a positive impact this holiday season and embracing “the giving spirit.”

High school students all over town have been dedicated to serving their community this December. At Santa Barbara High, San Marcos, and Dos Pueblos, students organized clothing donations, candy gram fundraisers, toy drives, and Christmas tree distributions. At Cate School, seniors spearheaded the Holiday Cheer Committee, which entailed raising money and shopping for several sponsored families.

One of the most significant benefactors of teen service is the nonprofit organization, Unity Shoppe, a grocery store for underserved community members. It allows them to shop for basic necessities, holiday gifts, and school supplies free of charge.

A recent addition to the “Free Store” was a delivery service, “Unity Delivers,” that distributes groceries and other items to those who are unable to shop in person. Unity Shoppe has been an integral part of the Santa Barbara community for over one hundred years, originally known as the Council of Christmas Cheer.

Unity Shoppe (courtesy)

In 1917, Dr. Pearl Chase established the Council to meet the needs of families during the holidays, and its impact continued to grow, especially when it was renamed Unity Shoppe and became a year-round resource in 1987.

Caroline Rogers, a junior at Santa Barbara High who participated in a clothing drive said, “It was such a fulfilling experience seeing how our efforts could make a difference, even if it was simply by putting a smile on someone’s face.”

Canned food collected from student organized drives also went to a local nonprofit, the FoodBank, to aid in the surge in demand this time of year. The first ever FoodBank was established in 1967 with the goal of not only feeding people but also ensuring the healthy future of communities.

Every dollar donated provides eight meals, and over 850 families were served on Saturday distribution days last year. Luana Acosta, a junior at San Marcos who aided in a food drive remarked, “When I think about how I can make the most significant impact, feeding the most vulnerable among us is a step towards ensuring nobody in our community goes hungry.”

Despite finals and the end of the semester, Santa Barbara teens continue to actively participate and give back to our community.


Written by Mia Groeninger

Mia Groeninger is a local high school student and intern at edhat.

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