By Chris Frost
Cutline: Wes (left) and his buddies enjoy having a good time. (Courtesy photo)
Ventura— Ventura County residents looking to share in the spirit and spread some cheer to people who otherwise will have a Christmas with no presents can take part in the premiere Wes’ Angels event, hosted by the ARC of Ventura County.
As people look to do something good this holiday season, the ARC needs gifts and has people who can benefit from their charitable donation.
Ventura County ARC Program Manager Alicia Gomez tells the Tri County Sentry the event is in its first year and was born during a team meeting about a specific individual and how the holidays were right around the corner.
“The administrators of his care home said he had very few resources for the holidays and it’s a common thing for our population,” she said. “They have limited income and resources. Some folks live in group homes where their basic needs are taken care of, but anything above and beyond is out of the question.”
After that discussion, Gomez said the group realized that many more special needs consumers go without during the holidays.
“We said let’s do something and figure something out and get some gifts going for people,” she said. “I took that idea back to the ARC, Tri County did the same on their side, and the Epiphany Care Homes did that on their side, and we compiled a list of individuals.”
From there, Gomez sent an email blast out to her colleagues and asked if they have anyone they support who won’t have a Christmas this year.
“I got back a list of about 37 names ARC-wide, Tri County came back with their numbers, and it turns out that we have close to 100 individuals we are thinking will benefit from this,” she said. “We know there are more, but we are trying to keep it manageable since it’s our first time and we are learning as we go.”
She hopes the event will grow into an annual event.
“Our idea is that we have a Dec. 19, deadline and around that day all of us will bring what we’ve got and take an inventory,” she said. “We want everyone on the list we compiled to get something, but we hope to get more than something. We will have them open the gifts on Christmas.”
She said the gift-giving would be person-to-person and the people who know the consumers will know the best way to distribute the gifts.
“For some people, it may be a fun thing to present them (the gifts) at the day program, and for others, it may be really special to have at home and have something special under the tree to open.”
The group is spreading the word in any way possible.
“We have an event on Facebook and people can say they're interested and start sharing it with everybody,” she said. “At this point, everything is needed.”
Gomez said people want to make a difference for people with special needs and invite consumers to their homes for dinner.
“We play it up on the day program side because we can,” she said. “We’ll all do something, and we’ll have a Christmas Feast at our day program. It’s something, and they appreciate it.”
Gift ideas for males include: gift cards, reusable lunch bags, socks, t-shirts, colored pencils, sweatshirts, sweaters, sweatpants, pajamas, backpacks, bathrobes, baseball hats, watches, coloring books for adults and young adults, young adult books, math, spelling and science workbooks, and flash cards, blanket throws.
Gift suggestions for women include scarves, pashminas, leggings, hair accessories, nail polish, notebooks, bags, purses, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and makeup.
Donations can be dropped off at Tri County Regional Center, 2220 E Gonzales Dr, Suite 220, Oxnard, attention Azita, 2635 Park Center Drive, Suite #A, Simi Valley, The Arc of Ventura County 5101 Walker Street, The Arc of Ventura County—Skyway, 280 Skyway Drive, Camarillo, The Arc of Ventura County—Simi Valley, 3340 E. Los Angeles Ave, and Epiphany Care Homes Inc. 1331 Doris Ave, Oxnard.
Ventura County ARC appreciates your support. For more information, call 805-644-0880.
451 West Fifth Street
Oxnard, California 93030
1000 Town Center Drive
Oxnard, CA 93036
(Walk-in & Drop-off)
9 a.m. - 5 p.m.