For 10 years, KSBY viewers have supported our Season of Hope campaign. Community members answered our call for food, toys and financial donations.
The holiday season is meant to be a joyful time - a time to sit around the dinner table enjoying a feast or to open presents on Christmas day.
But it's not that way for many families on the Central Coast.
"I would hate to have a child wake up on Christmas morning and not have anything under the tree because of circumstances," said Marge Castle, project coordinator for "Operation Santa," a San Luis Obispo County Department of Social Services program.
Through Operation Santa, kids and young adults who have experienced abuse, neglect or poverty receive toys on their wishlist.
"We go to our wishlist that the children have submitted what they would like for Christmas... We go through that and we start filling the wishes as we receive the donations from Season of Hope. Three years ago, we filled a little under a thousand wishes. Last year, it was 1,743 and we're almost at 1,900 so far," Castle explained.
Teens want gift cards while younger kids are asking for Legos, dolls and bikes.
Food is also a most-needed donation for the holidays. SLO Food Bank CEO Garett Olson says they need nutritious food.
"We're still seeing historic levels of food insecurity in our community," he said.
When donating food, think whole grains and food with high protein, but low in sugar, sodium and fat content.
"We supplement that with our inventory of fresh California grown vegetables (because) we know that we're not just filling bellies, we're also fueling minds."
Every food item, toy and dollar donated can help make your neighbors' holiday season brighter.
"The family (who benefits) knows that people care, that the community cares and that is hope," Castle said.
All donations remain on the Central Coast. For more information, head to KSBY.com/SeasonOfHope. Donations are accepted through Friday, December 17.