A purposeful holiday shopping spree

President John F. Kennedy inspired a generation with his 1961 inaugural quote, “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Six years ago, Los Osans Richard Margetson and Jerri Walsh asked who besides county government was funding the Maxine Lewis Memorial Shelter in San Luis Obispo.

“Twenty years ago, the shelter was intended to be temporary. It is still seven trailers welded together. A friends group was helping the Prado Day Center, but not the homeless shelter,” Margetson said.

“We talked to a few friends and came up with Saturday’s holiday fundraising concept. Everything is donated. The community is so generous,” he added. “Most of the 30 original volunteers are now leading hundreds of volunteers and sponsors.

“Each year more anonymous donors have matched the funds raised,” Margetson said. “The first year we raised $18,000 and last year just under $43,000.”

What is magical about the Los Osos-based Needs ’N Wishes event? It is people helping people and everyone benefits. Every penny –— 100 percent — directly supports the estimated 3,800 county homeless, half of them children.

After the 10 a.m. Los Osos Holiday Parade, activities happen at the Community Center until 7 p.m.

Shop for handmade or name-brand gifts at bargain prices. Volunteers greet you with warm thanks and holiday cheer while you shop for SLO Baked pies, gift certificates, fine art, jewelry, crafts, golf and hotel packages and much more donated for the silent auction.

Santa’s Toy Store has more than 400 new toys priced below retail, and if you buy one for a gift and another for Toys for Tots or Cal Fire’s Operation Santa, the funds still support the shelter — thrice-blessed.

Cookies, beverages and lots of live entertainment are all free, including this year’s additions of the Trinity Methodist Church Hand Bell Ringers, Scottish Dancers, plus school choirs from Morro Bay High and Baywood Elementary.

Best of all, Margetson reminds us, “There is no overhead. Everything earned goes directly to the shelter. Like last year, 20 percent will directly support building a permanent shelter next to the Prado Day Center. That means a larger facility with more beds and provided services.”

He said county land has been secured and fundraising is happening. Support from several anonymous “angels” offering matching donations is guaranteeing the project will happen sooner rather than later.

“Especially during the holidays, we need to care for the basic needs of all people,” Margetson said. “If you can’t attend, watch Saturday’s event on Channel 20 donated by AGP Video and please consider sending donations to Maxine Lewis Memorial Shelter, P.O. Box 6721, Los Osos, CA 93412. Any amount helps.”

Reach Judy Salamacha at judysalamacha@gmail.com or 801-1422.