December 31 at 8:00am

Big family helps other families enjoy holidays

One large extended family helped make Christmas a happier time for many through the Holiday Adopt-a-Family program at Interfaith Community Services.

Thirteen-year-old Sarah Chapman of San Marcos asked her mother, Susan, for ideas on how to give to others during the holiday season. Susan called Interfaith and learned about Adopt-a-Family, which matches individual and group of donors with families lacking the resources to buy gifts for one another.

She carried that information back to Sarah and to her husband Ryan and several of his siblings living in the area. When all was said and done, seven of the Chapman-related families had adopted seven of the client families in the program. That total included 21 children, most of them 12 and under, some of the program’s youngest volunteers.

Led by Sarah, the youngsters organized a bake sale, sold water bottles and asked neighbors and friends for donations. All the money raised went to buy gifts and necessities on the lists submitted by the client families.

“Normally, we give to each other,” said Susan Chapman. “We thought, ‘we don’t need anything.’ Why don’t we put together money and put it toward people in need?”

On Dec. 14, each of the seven families hauled bags full of gifts to “Santa’s Workshop” in an empty storefront in downtown Escondido. From there, Interfaith case workers delivered them to the adopted families.

“We think about Christmas being a day of giving,” said Susan. “It was so much fun.”