The Spirit of Giving in Santa Barbara

By Mia Groeninger

Santa Barbara is a generous community and that compassion shines through amidst the holiday season. There are a great number of philanthropic organizations that work to improve the lives of many underprivileged groups and they work especially hard during the holidays to spread the spirit of giving.

While there numerous non-profits that do amazing work, here are just a few to consider supporting this holiday season.

1. St. Vincent’s

Volunteers serving meals at St. Vincent’s (courtesy photo)

St. Vincent’s is the longest operating social service nonprofit in Santa Barbara. The organization is dedicated to serving low-income families and seniors through family enrichment, early childhood education, and affordable housing options, with roots in the Social Teachings of Catholicism. They also have a variety of special events in honor of the holidays.

“Our goal this holiday season is for our residents at the Center to have a sense of belonging and know that we care about them,” said President Rosa Paredes.

At Thanksgiving, staff and volunteers prepare a Thanksgiving meal and organize several different drives, including ones for sleeping bags, coins, and food. At Christmas, a special dinner and party is prepared for low-income seniors. The Associates work tirelessly to plan and coordinate events to bring the community together. Subsequently, the organization has seen an uptick in volunteer inquiries and were able to put on more events with safety in mind due to the pandemic.

Paredes adds, “Oftentimes, many residents don’t come to events until this time of year.”

Donate or inquire about volunteer opportunities at

2. Foodbank of Santa Barbara County

This holiday season, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County continues “its year round mission to transform hunger into health through good nutrition and education programs for all county residents in need.” During this time of giving, the Foodbank adds special holiday distributions.

Communications Manager Judith Smith-Meyer reports the Foodbank served over 5,100 individuals in three hours on the day before Thanksgiving in Santa Barbara and Santa Maria. Another set of distributions will take place on December 23rd from 9:30-1:30pm.

As winter settles in, certain industries slow, schools close, and the price of basic necessities increases, low income families are hit harder than most at any other time. 

“Our hope is to continue to serve all our neighbors who find themselves facing hunger this holiday season the same way we serve those facing longer term or short term needs throughout the year,” Smith-Meyer states.

The Foodbank’s fundraising goal for the past four months has been 6 million dollars, and they are 90 percent of the way. Donate or volunteer at

3. Storyteller Children’s Center

(courtesy photo)

Storyteller Children’s Center is an incredible nonprofit that serves Santa Barbara’s vulnerable preschool children and their families. Storyteller is a tuition-free preschool that not only provides trauma-informed education but medical care, nutritious meals, clothing, therapy, and other basic necessities.

“Our goal for families extends throughout the holiday season and beyond, and includes providing comprehensive support to help families in crisis,” states Development coordinator Haileigh Ortiz.

Storyteller plays a crucial role in helping the children to overcome early trauma, which allows them to succeed later on in life. The nonprofit has onsite mental health consultants and works to provide consistency and support.

Ortiz adds, “From heightened stress to added expenses, the holiday season can be incredibly difficult for families experiencing adversity.”

During the holidays, generous members of the community have the opportunity to purchase and wrap gifts for the kids and their family members through the Sponsor- a-Family program. There are a number of special holiday festivities for families to take part in together, and donations are especially appreciated.

St. Vincent’s, the Foodbank, and Storyteller Children’s Center are only three examples of nonprofits that are making a difference. These organizations truly spread the spirit of generosity and inspire giving throughout the larger Santa Barbara community.

Mia Groeninger is a student at Cate School and an intern at


Written by Mia Groeninger

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

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