Friends of San Pasqual Academy volunteers in Rancho Santa Fe make the holidays special for teen


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 eleven 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 personalized 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 her many elves.

Marc and Patty Brutten purchased a special headset- Beats- for each student and they also received a school sweatshirt and sweatpants, hygiene products and a $100 gift card from Friends of San Pasqual Academy donors. Kris and Steve Charton purchased Target Gift cards for all the students and the alumni that are coming back to stay at San Pasqual Academy, since their dorm rooms at college are closed. Catherine Nicholas purchased tee shirts in a variety of colors and sizes for the foster teens.

National Charity League members, coordinated by Teri Summerhays, collected pajama pants and other items for the teens. Karen Ventura and her friends baked over 500 cookies and also provided the cookie decorating essentials. The kids loved decorating these festive cookies with the many volunteers.

Raffle items were purchased by Ellie Cunningham and by Friends of San Pasqual supporters. The students loved their raffle surprises! Donna Herrick, once again, collected many beautiful items from Sidestreet Boutique, a unique clothing store in South Lake Tahoe.

The auditorium was transformed with spectacular Holiday decorations that were created by Monica Sheets and Debby Syverson. A beautiful Christmas tree, full of ornaments and lights, and unique Holiday table decorations that were created by Teri Summerhays filled the room. The students were served a traditional Christmas Dinner that included turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberries, vegetables, yams, Yule logs and various pies that was provided by Friends of San Pasqual Academy.

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

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 Celebration 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 non-profit 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”!