Words can’t begin to convey the depth of our gratitude to the generous and caring San Luis Obispo Community for making the Christmas dinner for the homeless so much more than just a meal.
Our guests arrived and departed courtesy of Ride-On, allowing them a brief reprieve from the winter cold. As they entered the beautifully decorated (by Julie Schultz and friends) and graciously donated Odd Fellow’s Hall, they were greeted with a mug of creamy eggnog courtesy of Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab.
Soon after, their plates were overflowing with a feast lovingly prepared by members of Congregations Beth David, Ohr Tzafon and Temple Ner Shalom. As our visitors’ dined, they were serenaded to the music of Billy Foppiano, Franky Pariedes and friends and treated to the fancy footwork of the Claddagh School of Irish Dance. These musicians and dancers have entertained our community’s homeless every Christmas for more than a decade.
Just as belt buckles were being loosened, out came an array of delectable pies courtesy of The Apple Farm and Marie Callenders restaurants.
The evening did not end there. Our dinner guests were then escorted to enormous adjoining heated tents kindly donated by Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center. Thank you, Rick Ford and Sierra Vista! These tents were filled to overflowing with care packages.
With the economy struggling for a second straight year, these care packages were needed now more than ever. Our remarkable community came through when we needed them the most enabling us to provide 250 new sleeping bags, sweatshirts, rain ponchos, winter jackets, umbrellas, toiletries, socks and underwear. All of our guests left with their arms laden with gifts.
Special thanks to Roman Bukachevsky for his annual donation of 200 sleeping bags and to SLO Camp-N-Pack for enabling us to purchase jackets and rain ponchos below cost. Tremendous gratitude also goes to: the Laureate and Teach schools for collecting umbrellas and toiletries, U-Haul for providing a moving van, San Luis Sourdough for years of delicious bread, Albertsons in Morro Bay, Pacific Gas & Electric, the Bob Neumann family, William Miller, Pacific Energy, Fred Monroe, Stephan Lamb and Cal Poly Americorps volunteers.
Our greatest thanks go out to the hordes of faithful and altruistic individuals who year after year give selflessly to this event in order to make life a little easier for those less fortunate. With gratitude and respect, we wish you a happy, healthy and peaceful new year.
Sheri Eibschutz is a San Luis Obispo resident.