Chamber’s Taste of Santee lends a helping hand to Santee Santas

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Families in need will be recipients of the 30th Taste of Santee sponsored by the Santee Chamber of Commerce, a joint community effort in support of Santee Santas. Held at Toyota Certified Center of Santee on Dec. 7 hundreds of people gathered to support the efforts of the Santee Santas Foundation to bring more than holiday cheer to children and their families this holiday season.

Families in need will be recipients of the 30th Taste of Santee sponsored by the Santee Chamber of Commerce, a joint community effort in support of Santee Santas. Held at Toyota Certified Center of Santee on Dec. 7 hundreds of people gathered to support the efforts of the Santee Santas Foundation to bring more than holiday cheer to children and their families this holiday season.

Some of Santee's best restaurants, chefs and organizations provided delicious samplings of food, desserts filled the showroom with a wonderful variety of food, drink and desserts. Within a short period of time, the Christmas tree display in the middle of the room was surrounded by hundreds of toys and food, all going straight to the Santee Santas organization. Bikes were lined up outside, as Mission Realty Group Santee donated 50 bikes with helmets from a previous fundraiser they held for the Santee Santas. Expressions Dance & Movement provided some wonderful holiday entertainment as children danced and sang their way into the hearts and the many cell phones of proud parents. Santa came in support and personally took donations from the tiny dancers.

Santee Chamber of Commerce 2017 board members and the newly elected 2018 board members gathered to present the Santee Santas with a $500 check to go towards its cause to help families in Santee. Santee Santas works all year in preparing for its holiday deliveries with food drives at local schools, using cash donations to purchase turkeys, potatoes, milk and other perishable items. Also collecting toys and bikes, the Santee Santas mission is to ensure that the families of children that are already listed on the local schools' free lunch program. Santee Santas President Sam Modica said this year they already have 217 families and expects more to sign up late.

"We provide a holiday meal that includes a turkey, milk, butter, oranges and all of the canned food items that are donated through the schools," he said. "So we give each family enough food to last them about two weeks. Now they are out of school for the holidays and mom and dad have to feed these kids. That's where we try and come in and help."

Modica said that Santee Santas does its best to provide them with enough food for the entire family size and that they always try to have more than they need. What is left after the generous donations goes to local fire stations so that they can prepare a festive meal while on duty during the holiday.

Modica has been involved with Santee Santas since 2007, taking over as president for the organization in 2010. He has held that position since and said that it is worth all of the hard work that everyone puts into making it a success year after year.

"It's a lot of work, but I feel really good about what we've done once it is over," he said. "It's amazing to look back after and see what we have done for our community."

Santee Santas Foundation started it beginnings 64 years ago, established in 1953 and Modica said it has no sign of slowing down. Santee Santas takes donations year long, has a large staff of volunteers and is always on the lookout for more. To find out more how you can help the Santee Santas visit santeesantas.org, call (619) 258-5947 or e-mail at santeesantas@gmail.com.

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