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Ramona Remembers a 2007 Spirit of Giving

After the Witch Creek Fire, a local mom and PTA president made it a mission to give displaced families a Christmas.

As Christmas draws close (next Monday night is when Santa will be sneaking down our chimneys), some Ramonans might remember what the holidays were like five years ago, when the sting of the Witch Creek Fire was felt by many in the community, especially those that lost their home.

But one active PTA mom set out to make sure that Christmas cheer was still spread across Ramona—home or not.

“It’s tragic when anyone loses their house,” said Amy Everett, current president of the Sun Valley PTA. “But it’s even more so when it’s coming up on the holidays.”

To help lift season spirits, Everett and Sun Valley PTA, who oversees the district PTAs, set out to bring Christmas to kids who had lost it all.

“We came up with this idea to put together this event… we wanted to make Christmas to the kids who lost their homes,” Everett said. “It was open to the students and their families (who lost their homes.)” 

Everett, whose son was in Barnett Elementary at the time, worked with local groups and individuals, like Christ in Action and a local photographer. She said Christ in Action set up a relief tent at the Mountain View Community Church to collect donations and supply volunteers.

“We had donations from all over,” Everett said. “A school down in Santee made a drive for us and gave us toys and clothes and bikes.”

A PTA in Lakeside also pitched in and gave five complete sets of artificial Christmas trees with a bucket of ornaments to complete the Christmas atmosphere.

“Donations were everywhere,” Everett said.

The efforts culminated in December with a holiday event held at the Olive Peirce Middle School Performing Arts Center. Christmas was brought in, and so were the families who had lost so much in the Witch Creek Fire.

“Every kid that came from the door got a wrapped present,” Everett told Patch.  “Every family got a lap quilt, lights, ornaments.”

The Sun Valley PTA had gathered Christmas presents for all ages, snacks, toiletries and even week's worth of meals. A piano player tickled the ivories with classic Christmas tunes and a community came together to provide a reason for the season.

“It was really rough, because so many of these people were my friends,” Everett said. “I knew some of the kids personally.”

For her efforts, the Sun Valley PTA members received the Volunteer of the Year Award from San Diego County School Board’s Association and Joel Anderson, at the request of Everett, sent certificates to all the groups and volunteers of the event.

“I remember being asked 'would you do this again?'” Everett said. “And I would in a heartbeat. But I pray to God I don’t have to.” 

Do you remember Christmas in 2007? Was your family a recipient the Sun Valley PTA Christmas? Share your memories in the comments below.

Christine Phillips December 18, 2012 at 05:22 PM
After the Cedar Fire many in our Parish of Immaculate Heart Of Mary Catholic Church had lost their homes and everything else they owned. We started the Giving Tree. The people we knew of were asked to fill out a wish list. Ornaments with their needs were made for each item, keeping the individuals affected anonymous of course. Parishoners were asked to take an ornament off the tree and return the wrapped item with the ornament attached and put it under the giving tree before Christmas. Gifts were then sorted according to families and delivered. The families, expecting only a few things were astounded at the generosity. One family asking for a tv, was surprised beyond belief, to receive a 32 inch TV, they had hoped for a 15 inch. The list of grateful fire survivors went on and on. The following year, people said they had enjoyed the experience of giving so much, could we still find those in need and make it an annual event. So we have done that every year and sadly after the Witch Creek fire again included fire survivors. We have needy people from The Ramona Senior center, In His Steps, Seafarers and Ramona Pregnancy Care Clinic just to name a few who benefit every year form this annual chance to give to those less fortunate. It is my favorite time of year when the Sunday arrives that all the gifts are to be brought in and the gifts nearly fill the narthex of the church, such is the generosity and good feeling of helping people in need.
Christine Phillips December 18, 2012 at 05:23 PM
I would love to hear about what other communities in Ramona, religious based or otherwise do to help others during this season?

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