Staff Report

People Helping People (PHP) is seeking the public’s help, including donations of time, turkeys and gifts, as it prepares its annual Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday programs that serve people throughout the Santa Ynez Valley and Los Alamos.

For Thanksgiving, PHP expands its regular biweekly food program to distribute turkeys and all the fixings to 275 to 300 low-income families and seniors. To do this, PHP must obtain food donations to supplement the nearly 10,000 pounds of food it normally delivers.

Donations of turkeys and other traditional accompaniments, “Turkey Bucks,” or cash gifts for those items can be made at PHP’s Service Center at 545 North Alisal Road in Solvang. PHP staff has already arranged for freezer and storage space so that they can begin taking donations immediately. Call Victor Gonzalez, PHP’s Food Program Coordinator, at 805-686-0295 to arrange a donation or even a pick-up.

PHP is also planning for its 25th annual valley-wide “Fulfill-A-Wish” program. In the true spirit of the Christmas season, a large cast of PHP staff and volunteers gather donated gifts for teens and basic-needs household items for families.

Additionally, PHP partners with “Toys 4 Tots” to collect and distribute toys, and with the Rotary Club of Buellton to gather and deliver warm coats to children in need throughout the area. PHP is the only official organization in the Santa Ynez and Los Alamos Valleys designated by the Marine Corps Reserve to accept Toys 4 Tots donations.

Although families must meet income qualifications to participate in the PHP Fulfill-A-Wish program, the eligibility and distribution process is completed with sensitivity and respect for the dignity of the families. All items distributed at Fulfill-A-Wish are donated materials or purchased with cash gifts specified for that purpose.

More than $20,000 in goods and 30 volunteers are needed to help fulfill families’ most basic needs at Christmas. Last year, PHP’s Fulfill-A-Wish Program assisted 83 families, including more than 2,000 children.

Kristina Stewart, PHP Brand and Marketing Manager, said that the overwhelming gratitude displayed by parents who are able to provide gifts on Christmas day for their kids makes the tremendous organizational effort worthwhile. 

“It is a wonderful feeling to help so many celebrate who otherwise could not,” said Stewart. 

According to Stewart, many of those assisted are victims of domestic violence, single moms, and very-low-income families working in the local service and agricultural industries,

PHP will distribute Christmas gifts from its Fulfill-A-Wish Boutique in the Buellton Park Center in space donated by JoAnn Taylor & The Lauren Company. The boutique will be festively decorated, stocked by volunteers, and be ready for operation on Dec. 20.

On that day, families and individuals meeting the PHP eligibility criteria visit the boutique and choose a limited number of gifts and toys based on the size of their family. Ramos indicated that the boutique will be open well into the evening in order to accommodate working families.

“The Fulfill-A-Wish program represents the very best of the valley community. … A great debt of gratitude is owed to the many businesses, schools, churches, and agencies that sponsor locations for donation boxes; the staff of C&D LLC, CPAs, that donate many hours to set up and decorate the boutique; and to the many other generous volunteers and donors who give of their time, toys, clothing, and funds,” said Dean Palius, PHP’s Chief Executive Officer.

To make donating to Fulfill-A-Wish convenient, donation boxes advertising Toys 4 Tots and “wish lists” will be available throughout the valley beginning in mid-November. And, for the second time this year, PHP and the Rotary Club of Buellton are making additional boxes available to collect gently worn coats to help individuals stay warm through the winter months.

In addition to the hundreds of toys needed each year the Fulfill-A-Wish program is especially in need of clothing for children, from infants to teens, and gift items suitable for teens. Gift cards are a great option for teen contributions. 

Individuals or groups interested in making a donation can request a list of recommended items from PHP and drop them unwrapped in one of the donation boxes or deliver them to the PHP offices at 545 North Alisal Road, Solvang.

Individuals and families can support PHP’s Fulfill-A-Wish Program with a donation of a gift, wrapping paper, or cash; placement of a donation box in a business; or by volunteering. For additional information, contact Crystal at People Helping People at 805-686-0295 or You can reach PHP by mail at P.O. Box 1478, Solvang, 93464.