Misty Gattie-Blanco, Fresno EOC Sanctuary and Support Services Director, said the yearly event was initially created to help struggling families. “The idea was to celebrate families and provide items they may or may not be able to get for themselves.”
This year, the recipients were families with children who attend Columbia Elementary School in west Fresno. Gattie-Blanco said the location changes annually. “We invite any school in Fresno County to submit an application. Once received the Committee reviews and makes selects the site. Determination is based on various factors including the number of low-income families and school involvement.”
The event wouldn’t be possible without donations and support from community partners, including Asia Supermarket, Target, and Food Maxx, who donated gift cards and cash. In addition, Salt Water Croc donated 25 turkeys; the Jolley Family donated $100 grocery cards for each family, and PG&E donated funds for the purchase of additional food, Christmas trees with lights, and ornaments which can be used each year.
A mother of four children, overwhelmed by the generous gift, said they had never put up a Christmas tree before. Read more about how “Making Spirits Bright” is making an impact in Vida en el Valle.
Sanctuary and Support Services has been serving homeless individuals and families since 1992 and currently operates two emergency shelters, bridge housing, and multiple permanent housing projects, as well as street-based outreach services. In 2009, the program expanded to provide comprehensive case management services to victims of human trafficking in Fresno, Madera, Merced, Kings, Tulare, and Kern counties. In response to community need, the program continued to expand and opened an LGBTQ+ Resource Center in downtown Fresno providing drop-in services and activities to members of the LGBTQ community.