Rancho Santa Fe volunteers help San Pasqual Academy foster teens celebrate the holidays


When we think of the 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 10 years, the 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 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 collected and created by Ellie Cunningham and Monica Sheets.

Marc and Patty Brutten purchased an Ipod Touch for each student and they also received a school sweatshirt and sweat pants, a beanie, t-shirts and a $100 gift card from Friends of San Pasqual Academy donors. Jennifer Dunn and Stephanie Jensen purchased Itune gift cards for all the students.

National Charity League members, coordinated by Teri Summerhays, collected pajama pants for the foster teens. Karen Ventura baked over 500 holiday sugar cookies and Joy Bancroft helped each student decorate these wonderful cookies.

Carole Markstein and Ellie Cunningham purchased many wonderful items for the special raffle and along with other raffle gifts, purchased by Friends of San Pasqual Academy, all 118 foster students received a raffle prize.

Donna Herrick, once again, collected many beautiful items from Sidestreet Boutique, a unique clothing store in South Lake Tahoe. Hygiene items from Chris Finkelston and hair products from Nina Williams made the foster teens very appreciative of how many people care about them.

Friends of San Pasqual Academy provided a delicious lunch to all the students. The tables were decorated by Monica Sheets with ornaments, garland and other holiday items. Monica also donated a beautifully-decorated Christmas tree to the school.

And many thanks to the volunteers who assisted with the Holiday Party, which included Lois Jones, Joy Bancroft, Judy Oliphant, Nan Comstock, Kris Charton, Sandy Bertha, Teri Summerhays, Monica Sheets, Heidi Hollen, Jennifer Dunn, Joyce Hyam, Andrea Reynolds, Arianna Bancroft, Patty Brutten, Ellie Cunningham, Mary Djaverharian, Carol Piezonka, Joanne Coleman, Jennifer Nelson, Dagmar Helgager, Kathy Lathrum, Donna Herrick, Karen Ventura, Gayle Valentino, Debby Syverson 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.

On behalf of the foster teens of San Pasqual Academy, “Merry Christmas to All and a Happy New Year!”