La Mesa Chamber of Commerce (LMCC) members, friends and the community come together every year to celebrate the Chamber’s strong belief in giving by collecting and distributing toys and items to military families living in La Mesa military housing.
Each year, LMCC has assisted these children and their families through a partnership with Lincoln Military Housing, the organization that manages military housing throughout the nation.
Usually, LMCC hosts a huge party at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, complete with food and beverages, as a way to collect the toys. This year due to the pandemic, LMCC had to change its strategy and hold a drive -thru toy gathering activity at Grossmont Center.
In addition to the drive-thru event, LMCC partnered with Teresa McClatchy, the manager of Barnes & Noble in Grossmont Center, who usually hosts an annual book drive for these families, as well. With the current restrictions, that activity also had to be shelved. McClatchy and her team were not deterred by the pandemic and held their own in-house book drive, gathering books and toys for the children. With the help of the Barnes & Noble team members, LMCC was able to collect over 402 toys and items this year.
“We want to thank all of those that played a part in assisting the children this year and making a difference in the lives of our La Mesa military families,” said LMCC president May England in a press statement.
LMCC’s annual senior project was also an overwhelming success. People drove from throughout the region to donate items for gift baskets and bags that were delivered to the 21 La Mesa homebound seniors this year.
Each year, LMCC works with tLa Mesa Police Department Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol to distribute the gifts. This year due to the pandemic, the RSVP’s have not been able to work, so LMCC enlisted the help of others from the Police Department to deliver the items.
Each year the La Mesa Chamber allocates funds to assist these seniors and were joined by the following financial partners who donated cash and gift cards: AMR, Kyle Nyswonger of Carl Burger Dodge Chrysler Jeep RAM World, Darsi Bakker of PenChecks, Inc. and Michelle Huey of Pete’s Place. In addition to these cash donations and gift cards, LMCC collected canned food, calendars, toiletries, notepads, soaps, shampoos, stationery, clothing, socks tissues, blankets and other articles for a grand total of 3,298 items.
The Chamber receives all of the items and wraps them in gift baskets and bags that are delivered to each senior. EDCO and Sycuan donated the bags that made the distribution possible.
In addition to these needed items, LMCC received beautiful handmade Christmas stockings from the Pioneers, a volunteer network of AT&T. These folks worked tirelessly throughout the year making those handmade Christmas stockings, then stuffed them with lots of items such as masks, shampoos, gloves, socks, wafers, lip balm, and more. Adorable stuffed animals were attached to each stocking, as an added bonus.
“The pioneers donate these stockings to various organizations during the holidays and we were pleased to receive them for our La Mesa seniors,” England said.
Steve Browne, Maggie Eggers, Dennis England, and Al Russell all volunteered to help pack the items in their vehicles and deliver them to the Police Department.
“The generosity of the public and our members in supporting this project, is a testament to the love that we all have for our senior population,” England said. “Our seniors do not ask for much and accept all that they are given with a grateful heart. We thank everyone who participated in this year’s project.”