2020 Holiday Resources

2020 has been, quite frankly, a kick to the balls for so many of us. I’m posting holiday resources now, and I’ll be updating with as many other resources as I find them to help y’all out.

With all of the CDC recommended safety measures and well as local and state regulations to help limit the further spread of COVID-19, many of the programs that I have written about in past years have been changed or altogether eliminated.

If any of these programs look like a good fit for your family, I urge you to apply ASAP. There is a greater need for assistance this year, and many of these programs are spread thin.

The holidays are more than food and gifts, but no one should go hungry any time of year!

Here is my post with a list of food banks/pantries in San Diego. Many of the food pantries also have special holiday distributions, it is worth a call to find out if any additional food or gift distributions will be done.

A Facebook friend posted this link a few weeks ago, Operation Santa 2020 is a group I am not entirely familiar with, but it looks like they will be helping out some families this holiday season. Nominations for Operation Santa 2020 close on 11/6/2020 (that’s this Friday), and there are two requirements:

  • Operation Santa is only considering nominations for families with reliable contact information, whether it be email or phone number.
  • Nominated families must reside in San Diego County to be considered.

If you live in Santee and need help with food and gifts for the holiday, contact Santee Santas. You can download and print forms, check into eligibility (it is income-based and they are very strict from what I’ve been told), and see what forms you need in addition to the application here.

The dates for turning in completed applications starts this week (Tomorrow to be exact). You can find specific information here.

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 1.53.34 PM.pngToys 4 Joy has served San Diego County families for over 20 years. Because of COVID-19, they are unable to host their amazing events. One of their main sponsors is The Rock Church. I would recommend contacting The Rock Church to see if any of their locations will be hosting a toy or food giveaway for the holidays.

The Salvation Army also has programs to help families during the Christmas Season. You can find out more here.

Toys For Tots is also a resource for holiday gifts for kids.

211 San Diego also has a lot of great resources. If you are outside San Diego County, check 211 in your area!

If you know of any other holiday events or programs that can help those in need, please post links in the comments!

Talk Back: What is your favorite way to help others? 

Planning for the Unplanned: A Lesson in Grace

So this started out as a post for Instagram, but it got a little wordy, so I decided to turn it into a blog post.

Last week’s meal plan was an epic fail. It was our first full week of distance learning with both kids, and I spent a majority of every day with one or both of them getting settled and accustomed to their schedules.

As a result, I didn’t stick to the meal plan, or get any writing done. This week, we’re trying it again, day by day. We didn’t starve either. We ate a lot of meals that came from pantry staples: Bean, rice, and cheese bowls, Spaghetti with red sauce and garlic bread (I made a huge batch of meat sauce a few weeks ago and froze portions for later meals- and the big kid had a vegetarian meal). And we had take out once… or twice. It was too hot to turn on the oven for our weekly pizza night, so we opted for delivery. Thanks to coupon codes (I love the Honey browser extension- it searches for coupon codes for me!) and the Dosh App, I was able to save $7 on a pizza and get free delivery! I also had coupons for free and BOGO bowls at Panda Express (Dinner for 4 was $8). I stretched them with some frozen Asian blend veggies, which I stirfried.

Every time I looked at our Meal Planning board, I felt discouraged, but after a few days, I realized that I needed to give myself some grace. I was doing the best I could. Everyone was still eating, we have shelter, clothes, we are all healthy. So I didn’t make Chicken Tetrazinni on Wednesday? Life still marches on. The kids have been working hard on their schooling, and its a hard thing to be accustomed to- learning alone with only little faces on an iPad screen a few times a day. I spend a lot of time helping them. Guiding them through worksheets, getting apps set up, encouraging them when they are upset or frustrated.

So this week:

Sunday night we had leftovers just to clean out the refrigerator and make room for the meal prep I was doing. I start our meal plan weeks on Sunday- It’s easier for me, since Sunday night tends to be quiet, and I can focus on it after the kids are in bed.

Monday was breakfast for dinner. I am absolutely in love with the Dehydrated hashbrowns from Costco. They make having hashbrowns at dinner (or really any time) a cinch.

I scrambled eggs with a little bit of half-and-half, and cooked them up with bacon crumbles, also from Costco, top with a little Mexican cheese blend, served with fruit, the aforementioned hash browns, and a half an avocado, and English muffins.

It was quick, it was easy, it was filling, and it was pretty cheap too.

Last night was supposed to be vegetarian chili, but I didn’t have a chance to get it into the crockpot, so instead the kids had what I like to call “Meal of Snacks”. I take a segmented plate and fill each section with something yummy: Peanut butter sandwich or hot, buttered noodles, goldfish crackers, apple or orange slices, fruit snacks, a juice box, or a glass of milk, cheese stick or cheese slices, and graham crackers for dessert. I had a frozen entree.

This week I’m just focusing on quick, easy meals with stuff that we already have on hand. I did a quick shopping trip to Food4less  Monday and picked up about $40 worth of groceries, which should get us through the next 10 days or so.

We have tons of pantry staples, and I have a lot of baking supplies on hand, so I will definitely be baking a pizza and cookies this week, maybe brownies too? We’ll see how the week goes. It’s already Wednesday, so who knows. And we are supposed to have a heatwave starting tomorrow. Again. I’ll be glad when it’s no longer in the triple digits for a week at a time.

 

I’m not gonna pretend that I’m perfect, I’m not gonna pretend that my life is all sunshine and unicorns.  Shit is hard right now for all of us. I wasn’t trained to be a kindergarten teacher or a 4th-grade special education teacher. Adding the stress of teaching daily to everything else that I am supposed to be doing is hard, and stuff falls to the side. Putting away laundry, sweeping up the living room, running the vacuum, washing my hair… But remembering that we are all in the same boat is what’s keeping me going.

Pushing out all of the “Insta-perfect” of my line of sight has done wonders for my mental health. All of those perfectly cultivated and curated pics can be detrimental to our mental health. There is a lot of comparing of ourselves to these photos we see online of perfect, clean, bright white kitchens and homes. Guess what- They aren’t real. These people have helpers: Housekeepers, nannies, mother’s helpers. They aren’t doing it alone. AND NEITHER SHOULD WE. Reach out to your tribe. You aren’t in this alone. We may be limited in our in-person, face to face contact with our friends and family, but we can still make phone calls, facetime, skype, zoom, email, or even write letters the old fashioned way.

You aren’t alone. I see you. I recognize you. I’m here for you.

Until next time: Wash your paws, wear a mask, flatten the curve.

Make a Difference with Branch Out Market!

Recently the awesome folks at Branch Out Market reached out to me. Their message and products really spoke to me. Branch Out Market is a marketplace of incredible handmade items and tremendous hope. They represent nonprofits and artisan groups around the world in their efforts to reach a wider market. All of their partners/suppliers follow fair-trade practices, create jobs where needed most, and give back through lifting up!

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Per Henry, “Don’t wake the Pangolin!”

They partner with nonprofits who are teaching a skill, working with women, young artisans, or refugees to help create economic opportunities and income streams for their projects. Branch Out Market spreads kindness and significance not only to their customers but also our non-profit partners, our producers from South Africa, India, all around the world! They don’t have sufficient access to a broader market like Branch Out Market does. Branch Out Market helps them focus on their missions and building jobs.

 

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Henry has been sleeping with his new buddy.

We received this super cute Pangolin in the mail. He was knit in Zimbabwe by a lady called Gladys.

Henry loves Pangolins- There is one at the San Diego Zoo. They are protected animals, as they are trafficked heavily for their meat and scales (which are keratin). They are super cute little animals.

10% of the sale of the Gogo Olive products go to support the work of the Tikki Hywood Trust.

 

IMG_7417.jpgIn addition to these cute little hand knit stuffies, Branch Out Market sells home goods, holiday ornaments, clothing, accessories, and paper goods.

When you buy a simple gift from Branch Out Market, you are spreading kindness, too. Every product has a story; every purchase makes an impact!