Friends of San Pasqual Academy volunteers make the holidays special for foster teens


When we think of holidays, we think of our families and loved ones and being able to spend precious time with them during this meaningful season. Holidays are particularly stressful for foster kids, who are constantly reminded of not being able to be in a traditional setting with family members. They have been placed under protective custody by the court for various reasons. Abuse, neglect and negative memories have been part of their lives. At San Pasqual Academy, many of these foster teens are able to overcome this cycle of abuse and become productive adults. A special “San Pasqual Academy family” is created: one that provides stability, support, love and guidance. The volunteers of Friends of San Pasqual Academy are a key part of this support system. For over 16 years, volunteers have been dedicated to providing positive experiences to these foster students. Many lives have been changed as a result of these efforts.

The foster teens of San Pasqual Academy celebrated the start of the holidays with many exciting activities. A festive party and holiday dinner for the students was held at the unique school, which is both home and school for the foster teens of San Diego County. Many individuals and organizations donated items and, most importantly, their time and resources to make this holiday special.

The party began with each student receiving a special Christmas stocking that had each student’s name on them. These beautiful stockings were filled to the brim with wonderful items that were purchased by Friends of San Pasqual Academy. Kids Kare of the Rancho Santa Fe Community Center had the task of stuffing 100 stockings and they made each one look spectacular.

Marc and Patty Brutten purchased a Chrome Book laptop computer for each student. They also received a school sweatshirt, Nike sandals, athletic shorts, a Hydro Flask water bottle and a $100 gift card from Friends of San Pasqual Academy donors. A traditional Christmas dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy and more was catered by The French Gourmet.

National Charity League members, TPHS Honors Society members, and other caring individuals, coordinated by Teri Summerhays, donated pajama pants and baked sugar cookies for the teens. A sewing group, based in Oceanside, made personalized pillow cases for each student.

Adding to the fun was a cookie decorating activity, organized, once again, by Shelby Strong. She assisted the students in creating their own special holiday treats. There was also a raffle, coordinated by Ellie Cunningham, where each student received a raffle prize. The Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Foundation, Ellie Cunningham and other individuals purchased many wonderful items that were greatly received by the foster students.

And, of course, a favorite activity was “shopping” with each student and helping them select items that were collected by many donors. Volunteers of Friends of San Pasqual Academy became each student’s “personal shopper” and this was a fun-filled activity.

And many thanks to the volunteers who assisted with the holiday party, which included Teri Summerhays, Heidi Hollen, Jennifer Dunn, Patty Brutten, Shelby Strong, Ellie Cunningham, Erika Spinazzola, Mary Djavaherian, Sandy Bertha, Joycelyn Dunham, Sonya Stoeffle, Mimi, Joyce Hyam, Lois Jones, Andrea Reynolds, Dagmar Helgager, Kathy Lathrum, Debby Syverson, NCL volunteers and Joan Scott. Again, many thanks to these dedicated volunteers and donors for making this event so wonderful for the foster teens of San Pasqual Academy.

The foster students expressed their gratitude and appreciation to all who made this possible. It will be a Christmas they will always remember and treasure. Most importantly, the foster teens expressed their gratitude for so many people caring about them and conveyed to the volunteers that their gift of time and love was the most important gift they receive throughout the year.

For more information on Friends of San Pasqual Academy, which is a nonprofit 501 (c) 3 organization, please visit or call 858 759- 3298. Donations can be sent to Friends of San Pasqual Academy, PO Box 8202, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067.

(In photo above): Volunteers of Friends of San Pasqual Academy display items that were donated or purchased for the foster teens of San Pasqual Academy. A very festive holiday party took place that will make the holidays a little brighter for these foster students. Each student received a Christmas stocking, and many other gifts. Pictured in the front row: Kathy Lathrum, Heidi Hollen, Teri Summerhays, Shelby Strong, Joyce Hyam, Sonya Stoeffle, Jocelyn Dunham, Dagmar Helgager and Patty Brutten. Second row: Andrea Reynolds, Mimi, Sandy Bertha, Lois Jones, Erika Spinazzola, Jennifer Dunn, Mary Djavaherian, Joan Scott and Ellie Cunningham.