By Raiza Giorgi 

Since California’s Stay At Home order has been in effect for just over a month now, local volunteers with various churches and organizations have seen a huge uptick in amount of families in the Santa Ynez Valley that are food insecure. Several groups have started in the Santa Ynez Valley to help those in need. Read our separate story on the River of Giving group. 

Another effort to help those in need is the Buellton Blessing Box.

“I come by this box at least four to six times a day and fill it with essential items and nonperishable food,” said Candice Signa, volunteer. “There is such a great need for diapers, wipes and feminine hygiene products as those aren’t available with some food assistance programs.” 

The Buellton Blessing Box was put up just outside Buellton Garage on Second Street, as owner Jeni Hurnblad had an old armoire sitting around and thought it would be a goodwill gesture.
Photo by Raiza Giorgi

The Buellton Blessing Box was put up just outside Buellton Garage on Second Street, as owner Jeni Hurnblad had an old armoire sitting around and thought it would be a goodwill gesture. 

“We just want to help our community and this way people can just come and get what they need, or people who want to donate quietly can just come and fill the box,” Hurnblad said. 

The Solvang Blessing Box was installed at Bethania Lutheran Church. The people in charge of checking supplies at both locations are Hurnblad, Signa, Elizabeth Breen and Jen Klamm. 

“When Elizabeth put out a post on Facebook to fill the blessing box, it was great to start helping because I am a stay at home mom with three boys and I wanted to help in someway,” Klamm said.

Every few days she puts a post online about picking up donations anywhere in the valley, which is a good excuse to get out of the house and gives her boys a great lesson in community service. 

“They don’t complain, and even though they’re small, I think they get the bigger picture,” she said. 

Since Klamm and her family are relatively new to the valley, it’s also been a great way to learn the many backroads and ways to get around. 

“Google Maps doesn’t work to get to where I need to, so learning to drive down a dirt road and take a second left after the oak tree has been a fun adventure,” she laughed. 

Breen has been volunteering through Bethania Church on their food assistance projects and is out every Tuesday giving groceries to those in need. 

“The trouble is, there was already a food insecurity issue even before COVID-19 started,” Breen said. “Now we are seeing so many suffer from this because they’ve lost their jobs and lived paycheck to paycheck. At our recent grocery-giving event we had 130 new families come.” 

Families in need contact Breen and she helps them by either dropping off items of need, shopping for those who can’t, or trying to put them in contact with other programs in place as well. 

Signa has been one of the local go-to resources for helping people find assistance along with trying to keep people’s spirits up by printing yard signs for people to put up to show solidarity. Along with several other realtors and construction companies, they have given away gift cards to local grocery stores to help combat food insecurity. 

“I just want people to know they can reach out and we will do our best to get them what they need to get through this,” Signa said. “We are all stronger together.” 

Kira King, 10, and Nathan Biron, 10, of Buellton created a special slime to sell to raise money for stocking the blessing boxes.
Photo by Raiza Giorgi

Kira King, 10, and her best friend Nathan Biron, 10, both of Buellton, decided they wanted to help as best they can and have started selling slime to raise money to donate to the volunteers to purchase goods for the blessing boxes. Kira’s Slime Lab has been in operation for more than six months and has sold more than 50 containers to date. 

“Nathan and I have been making and selling slime for a while and thought this would be a great way for parents to get something fun for their kids to do at home, and feel like they’re helping too,” Kira said. 

Kira and Nathan said they both love playing with slime and said it’s a great way to relieve stress. 

“The feeling of squishing it and the different textures gets people to focus on the slime and perhaps they might forget bad feelings,” Kira said. 

They created a special slime called Ray of Sunshine of which 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the blessing boxes, and 50 percent of their other varieties will be donated. 

If people do not want the slime, they can still donate to their efforts and the slime will be donated as well. Visit and click on the COVID-19 relief button. 

Read more on Coronavirus relief efforts and resources by searching the COVID-19 tab.