Staff Report

The 17th annual Santa Ynez Valley Christmas Basket Program this year is supporting 151 local needy families, including 337 children and 280 adults.

On Dec. 22, each family will pick up a large hamper of food, staples and toiletries as well as a large, decorated box filled with wrapped presents for each family member, fresh chickens donated by El Rancho Market, a gift card for a local grocery store, and toys donated from the Alexander family’s annual Christmas display at their Buellton home.

The Christmas Basket Program is organized by volunteers from Mission Santa Ines, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church and Santa Ynez Valley Presbyterian Church, along with support from hundreds of individuals and more than 30 local businesses and organizations.

“Every year, we reach out to the community and ask them to help us convey the spirit of the season because we want all local families to experience the magic of Christmas. We are so grateful to the Los Olivos Rotary for their generous donation this year. This program provides a hand up versus a hand-out to help during this season of sharing,” program director Genevieve Geyser said.

“We are very pleased to support the Christmas Basket program this year with our donation of $1,455,” said Los Olivos Rotary President Inge-Lise Pedersen. “We know that these funds will purchase food for needy families here right in the valley.  Working together with this annual program fulfills one of our club’s missions to provide specific support for youth, senior citizens and the mentally, physically or economically disadvantaged.”

Basket recipients must be families in Ballard, Buellton, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez or Solvang who have minor children, are struggling financially and are unable to provide for their families at Christmas.

Applications to participate in the program are available each October and are reviewed by the volunteer committee, which notifies families are of acceptance in early November.

This year’s Christmas Basket Program is still in need of tax-deductible cash donations to cover costs of the food in the hampers. Checks may be made out to Old Mission Santa Ines, with a note about the 2017 Christmas Basket Program and mailed to 1760 Mission Drive, Solvang, CA 93463.

For more information, contact program director Genevieve Geyser at 805-688-2106 or