The Holidays are Happening – Statewide!

By: Danielle Cenedella, CA DCSS

Alameda County DCSS
Alameda County DCSS partnered with Alameda County Social Services Agency for the third year to celebrate the season of giving. In a friendly tree-decorating competition – Alameda County DCSS split the department into 6 teams, each named after one of Santa’s reindeer — to decorate a tree for the holidays that will be donated to a family in need. Alameda County Social Services supplied the additional presents and surprises for the selected families. The tree judging took place on Friday, December 13th.



Fresno County DCSS
Fresno County DCSS held four events this holiday season: Adopt-a-Family and Holiday Food Drive, Pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus and Buddy the Elf, Dec-a-Door, and an Ugly Sweater Contest.




Kern County DCSS 

Kern County DCSS partnered with the Kern County Department of Human Services to participate in the annual Holiday Cottage – Granting Wishes for Foster Children from November 20 – December 13. Staff members teamed up with their families to grant a child’s wish by collecting gifts which will be delivered directly to the children right in time for the holidays.


Kings County DCSS

Forgotten Angels
From December 2 to December 16, Kings County DCSS assisted the Salvation Army by hosting a toy drive for their “Forgotten Angels”. Despite Salvation Army’s best efforts and the overwhelming generosity of community partners, hundreds of Angels do not get selected from the Angel Trees each year that are placed in department stores. There are also many others who are selected from the trees, but no gifts are returned for distribution. This toy or gift drive helps the Salvation Army provide for those “Forgotten Angels”.

Annual Slipper Socks Drive for Seniors
From November 17 to December 18, Kings County DCSS hosted their Annual Slipper Socks Drive for Seniors! The non-slip socks received are donated to local nursing homes and retirement facilities in Kings County, whose residents love to have Christmas cheer and warm feet!


Los Angeles County CSSD
Los Angeles County CSSD participated in the 19th Annual Holiday Drive on December 12. Each year, staff work together to bring happiness to families in need. Families from the Los Angeles County CSSD caseload are nominated by staff to receive toys, gift certificates, and other holiday items to help assist them during the holiday season.


Merced County DCSS
Merced County DCSS partnered with the Merced County Food Bank on December 11 to donate non-perishable items. Staff had a goal to fill a full-sized barrel to support their neighbors in need and exceeded their own expectations! Employees also participated in an event called Your Gift Matters on December 20, “adopting” tags from many Merced County organizations to purchase gifts for children and families in need. Most families selected for this event have children in their early teens to young adults.

Charities sponsored included: Aspiranet, which assists foster children in Merced County; the Merced Sheriff’s Department, sponsoring children of an incarcerated parent; Veteran’s Affairs, which concentrates on the families of veterans; their own Merced County DCSS caseload and Valley Crisis Center, which supports families who are victims of domestic violence.



Monterey County DCSS
Monterey County DCSS collected food and money in December to support the Food Bank for Monterey County. All the donations help make a difference for Monterey County families who are struggling to put food on the table.





Napa County DCSS
Napa County DCSS adopted more than 40 children this holiday season with the help of American Automobile Association (AAA) employees and generous community members. The children received clothing, shoes, toys and even bikes! Staff also participated in a “Hoodie Drive” for teens, collecting more than 25 hoodies to make sure the older children from their caseload were not forgotten during the holidays. In all, more than 100 children received gifts, and a couple of parents, too!


Orange County DCSS
County-wide Events: Operation Santa Claus and Senior Santa & Friends
The County of Orange Operation Santa Claus program provides gifts and toys to children who are abandoned, neglected, and/or abused and are placed in foster care in Orange County. In addition, Operation Santa Claus provides holiday gifts to children of disadvantaged families who are receiving services from the County of Orange. Last year this program distributed over 39,000 toys and gifts, bringing joy and a message of hope to the most vulnerable children in Orange County.

Senior Santa & Friends provides gifts and special request items to low-income elderly or severely disabled adults who are clients of Orange County Social Services Agency and/or the Orange County Health Care Agency. Often these individuals are isolated from family and their community. Items received through Senior Santa & Friends help to enhance the quality of life, making life easier, more comfortable or more independent. Last year Senior Santa & Friends provided almost 6,500 gifts to this vulnerable population.

Orange County DCSS Toy Distribution
Customer Service Teams offered toys to the children of Orange County DCSS customers during the month of December. As in years past, Operation Santa Claus has provided Orange County DCSS with toys of every kind and for every age, so when customers come in with a child, with the permission of the parent, the staff conducting the interview will offer the child(ren) a toy. When they provide a toy, it is given on behalf of all of Child Support Services. This year staff were able to offer a wide variety of toys: balls for all ages, Barbies and baby dolls, cars and trucks from small to remote control, board games for all ages, stuffed animals of various kinds and size, and activity and learning toys for babies.


Sacramento County DCSS

Sacramento County DCSS participated in the 2nd Annual Ugly Sweater Walkathon on December 3, sponsored by their Wellness Committee to help promote daily exercise. They also hosted a Giving Tree Drive November 18 – December 13 to benefit the Sacramento Children’s Home, which serves over 7,100 children and 4,300 families during the holiday time. Staff had 150 stars with wishes from children ranging in ages from unborn to 19 years old and granted all 150 wishes as well as making additional gifts of gift cards and cash. These gifts will be distributed throughout Sacramento County affording children and their families a happy holiday.


San Bernardino County DCSS
This December, San Bernardino DCSS staff came together to help young and minor parents in their community, selecting two organizations that have a shared purpose of helping young families in need. The organizations selected were Walden Family Services and Purposely Chosen, which support birth, foster and adoptive families and the community in caring for displaced teenage and very young mothers and fathers.

Staff adopted twelve families whose parents range in age from 17 to 24, a total of 14 children with the youngest child born just two weeks ago. The parents asked for basic necessities such as clothes, blankets, household and personal care items. Employees gave generously from their hearts to bring holiday cheer to young parents and their children, who truly need a stranger’s support and kindness.


San Francisco County DCSS
San Francisco County DCSS, in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office, San Francisco Fire Fighter’s Union Local 798, and the San Francisco Public Library hosted their 16th annual Children’s Toy and Book Festival at the historic City Hall on December 4. This year 1,200 children ages 12 and under received age-appropriate toys and books along with an opportunity to meet Santa Claus and Clifford the Big Red Dog. The department works with San Francisco’s public schools, community-based organizations, and customers to pre-register children for this event.


San Joaquin County DCSS

San Joaquin County DCSS participated in three events in December – an Ugly Sweater Contest, a Holiday Baking Contest, and their annual Adopt a Family effort. On December 4, team members were encouraged to get in the spirit by wearing their ugliest holiday sweater to work. Trophies were given for Most Creative, Most Festive, Ugliest, and a category called “Is That Even a Sweater?” The winners were Bryan Potter, Sonji McAfee, Lisa Mendoza, Mary Lopez, Melonie Jacques, Angie Contreras, Ashley Hullen, Carin Rhodes and Annalouise Mena. On December 11, staff members participated in a bake-off to display their culinary skills! Entries included egg nog cake, coconut sponge cake, gingerbread cake, pineapple cake and more…a committee of judges held a taste test to sample the entries, and Salina Chavez took home first place with her beautiful chocolate cake. In addition, employees adopted a family from their local Women’s Center Youth and Family Services program, and provided a great holiday, purchasing items that totaled more than $750 in household items and gift cards for the family.


San Luis Obispo County DCSS
San Luis Obispo County DCSS contributed to the enrichment of the community by donating 26 brand new toys to KSBY’s Season of Hope during November and December. The toys were given to children on the Central Coast who might otherwise go without. San Luis Obispo County DCSS was honored to have the opportunity to give back to their community and enrich the lives of children during this holiday season.




San Mateo County DCSS
Giving With Gratitude
During the month of November and early December, San Mateo County DCSS Wellness & Engagement Champions participated in a sock drive event, collecting new cotton socks to donate to a local non-profit organization, Dignity on Wheels, a program that provides shower and laundry services to the adult homeless population of San Mateo County. Socks are the most requested clothing item, but are the least donated.

The Children’s Fund- Holiday Gift Program
Continuing with their annual holiday tradition, San Mateo County DCSS participated in the 2019 Holiday Gift Program, donating a total of 32 bikes to this wonderful program that provides new gifts during the holidays to low income and foster youth. They were also able to nominate children from their caseload to this program and will personally give each child their gift.

Children’s Fund:


Santa Barbara County DCSS
Santa Barbara County DCSS donated toys to Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for children 0–18 years old currently in foster care in the the county. CASA aims to provide a safe home for every abused and/or neglected child, and helps each child navigate the foster system. Toys were distributed to CASA on December 9th.


Shasta County DCSS
For many years, the staff at Shasta County DCSS have included charitable donations in their holiday activities. This year, they partnered with One Safe Place, a local organization that provides support to families who have been impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault. Each year, One Safe Place hosts a “Santa Store” filled with clothes, toys and books for children of all ages; clients visit the shop and can choose whatever they would like for the holidays free of charge. Throughout November and into December, Shasta County DCSS held a sock drive to donate to the Santa Store and were able to donate 400 brand new pairs of socks.


Sonoma County DCSS
Sonoma County DCSS staff celebrate the holidays by giving each year in the annual toy drive coordinated through the Salvation Army and holding an annual bake sale to raise funds to purchase school supplies and backpacks to donate to needy children. Starting in November, staff pulled tags off an Angel Tree to start toy shopping and by the first week of December, some of the best toys available were under the tree. Staff baked their tastiest treats and held a silent auction which raised $560 for the backpack and school supplies drive held each summer.


Tehama County DCSS
Tehama County DCSS partnered with Tehama County Probation and Tehama County Social Services to host “Santa is Coming to Town” in Los Molinos on December 18. All of the kids enjoyed photos with Santa, ornament making, and cookies.


Kudos to the generosity and hard work of ALL of these employees, helping Child Support Services make a positive impact above and beyond child support payments in the lives of the families served.