Heroes come in all shapes and sizes; they are young, old, rich and poor, people from all religions, races and cultures. Heroes are created when people learn to live with integrity and understanding. True Heroes regard the feelings, wishes, rights, and traditions of others because everyone should have the right to live with dignity.

donate-2Heroes are mothers who sacrifice for their families, setting a good example for their children who learn to respect their parents and others. Heroes are in businesses, financial institutions, foundations, and nonprofits that encourage collaborative efforts so everyone in need of help can receive the best services possible. They are those who take the time to learn how to give in a way that really makes a difference, learning how to help in a way that is needed – not just doing things that make them feel good.

Millions of people in our country go to bed hungry every day.  20 to 30% of children live below the poverty line.  Families seek support from government programs, nonprofits, churches, schools and hospitals. Dr. Pearl Chase was the first to notice that there were poor people living in beautiful Santa Barbara. She started a holiday program so low-income children, the disabled and elderly could be helped. Dr. Chase discovered how many different groups were involved and learned that many people were helped multiple times by a variety of organizations. She convinced the different groups to work together, so they could eliminate duplication, so more people could be helped. The work of the Council of Christmas Cheer was started in 1917. The agency’s name was  changed to the Unity Shoppe, once year-round services were provided.

From 1917 to 1970, only 300 families were being helped annually throughout Santa Barbara. By consolidating efforts, they reached a little over 1,000 families in 1976. Those involved agreed it was easier collaborating with other agencies because everyone working together could benefit more people with better services. Retired Social Service employees developed the rules and principals of giving so low-income parents could remain the caretakers of their own children. These same policies are still honored today.

Today an average of 300 other non-profit organizations, churches, schools, hospitals, senior programs, shelter services, counseling centers and individuals refer 18,000 unduplicated people annually. Referred families, children, the elderly and disabled are qualified and documented. Clients are given the opportunity to use the “Central Distribution Facility” and any of the Unity programs for a one-year period. There is no charge to those referred or to the people and agencies that send them. They may shop for food, clothing and basic needs to supplement their income during times of crisis so they can pay their rent and avoid homeless situations. 70% of those helped are in the workplace, 18% are disabled or elderly, and 60% are single parents raising their children alone. 90% of them do not rely on welfare or food stamps as they take care of their own children while being assisted with respect and dignity.

Unity Shoppe Programs include:

Grocery & Clothing Center ~ School Clothing and Supplies for Children ~ Work, Learn & Earn Programs

Long-Term Disaster Services ~ Senior Resource Center ~ Job Smart Program ~ Santa’s Toy Shoppe