Jackie Piro Huyck.…Vista, CA, November, 2017 –Soroptimist International of Vista and North County Inland recently donated $500 worth of $25 gift cards to children in Operation Hope’s year-round shelter for homeless families. Soroptimist co-President Lani Beltrano came up with the idea after hearing Kathleen Higgins, Operation Hope’s Executive Director, speak at the club’s October program meeting. “I thought it would be rewarding for our club to do something special for homeless children and mothers in our community around the holidays,” said Beltrano. Since donations for toys were already plentiful, fellow Soroptimist Kaye Van Nevel, who volunteers at the shelter, came up with the idea of giving gift cards for “shoes, boots and socks” around Thanksgiving. With the Soroptimist club’s approval, Van Nevel decorated a shoe box to hold donations, and passed it around at subsequent club meetings. Once the goal of $500 was met, Walmart gift cards were purchased.
The gift cards were presented to the children at the shelter on Thanksgiving Eve by Beltrano, who first joked with the kids about the kinds of shoes, boots and socks they might want to buy (with props) and explained what a Soroptimist is (and how to pronounce “Soroptimist”). “We want to make sure they see this is from the good hearts of Soroptimists of Vista and North County Inland,” said Van Nevel.
Operation Hope’s Resource Development Director Nicole Ketcher said, “Watching the kids’ faces light up when they heard they will not only be receiving new shoes but will also get to choose the shoe that reflects their own personality was truly heartwarming. Thank you Soroptimists for putting a smile on our kids faces and warm shoes on their feet.”
Executive Director Higgins added, “While we revel in their excitement at receiving new shoes, the best gift is that these kids will go to school looking like their peers. Not appearing homeless and fitting in is so important to them.”
PHOTO (attached) CAPTION: L-R: Holding envelopes with gift cards (l-r) are Soroptimists Kaye Van Nevel and Lani Beltrano (Soroptimist co-President), and Operation HOPE’s Nicole Ketcher (Resource Development Manager) and Kathleen Higgins (Executive Director). Photo by Jackie Piro Huyck
Soroptimist International of Vista and North County Inland (SIVNCI)…. is a dynamic group of women who seek to make a difference in our community through offering scholarships and grants to disadvantaged women and by raising awareness and educating the public about issues affecting women and girls, such as domestic violence and human trafficking. The Club meets at 12 noon every first Friday at Shadowridge Golf Club. For more information visit soroptimistvista.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Operation H.O.P.E.-VISTA is a year-round shelter in Vista 45-bed year round shelter focusing on homeless families and single women. The facility offers laundry, shower, computer banks, playground and courtyard, and conference room for Homework Club activities and adult education classes. Meals are provided by volunteers. All case management is performed on-site in order to raise client accountability and to better assist clients in progressing toward the next step in ending their homelessness. For more information visit operationhopeshelter.org or call (760) 536-3880.