For 60 years, Santee Santas have been helping less fortunate members of the community not only at the holidays but throughout the year. Every year the organization works with the Santee School district to identify needy families who would benefit from their assistance of food and toys to make the holidays brighter. In 2012 Santee Santas helped 210 families with a total of 396 children. The group also has a senior outreach program to ensure that seniors living alone or in care facilities are not forgotten at the holidays.
This year, as they prepare to mark 60 years of service to Santee, the Santee Santas have decided to celebrate with a fundraising event at Santee Lakes. On Saturday, September 28, the new gazebo at Lake 1 will be transformed into a Hawaiian paradise for "Luau at the Lakes, a 60th Year Anniversary Fundraiser." The celebration will run from 5:00-9:00 p.m. and will feature a Hawaiian-style luau and entertainment. Dinner, including a vegetarian dish, will be catered by Da Kine’s and entertainment will be provided by dancers from Makani Kai Dance Studio. In addition, Manzanita Brewing Company will be on hand with beer and wine, Coffee Corner will provide coffee and Eccentric International Chefs will serve up anniversary cakes.
“It’s a Santee event,” said Santee Santas Director Sam Modica. “It’s pulling in the community and resources within the community to participate in this.”
For the event, Santee Santas have partnered with the Santee Lakes Foundation to provide the location as well as many of the local businesses. The two groups have worked together in the past, helping to provide Santee with the kind of small-town community feel that makes it a special place to live.
Food and entertainment will be only a part of the fun at the event. There will also be a silent auction to help raise additional funds for the organization. Among the items donated are a laser-signed 50th Anniversary Chargers football autographed by the entire team and staff, a set of four season passes to the 2014 Del Mar Races, a two-night stay with dinner at a special location in La Jolla Shores, golf packages and much more. This is a true family event, with special activities for children including a playground, face painting and more. A special treat at the end of the evening will be the arrival of Santa Claus on holiday, with leis for all the children present.
Tickets for the Luau at the Lakes are $40 for adults and $25 for children 3-12, with children under 3 admitted for free. Because it is a fundraiser, a portion of each ticket is tax deductible, with $20 deductible on adult tickets and $5 on child tickets. Additionally, VIP tables for corporations or families are available for $500. Each table seats eight and includes two bottles of wine, preferred seating, reserved parking and recognition at the Luau, in the program and on the Santee Santas website.
Modica and the members of the board at Santee Santas have been working hard for the past several months to make sure that this event is a success. Even after 60 years, Modica says he is always amazed at the number of residents who are not aware of what the group does.
“There are so many people in Santee, believe it or not, that do not know of Santee Santas,” said Modica. “Everywhere I go I talk to people and I say, ‘Have you heard of Santee Santas?’ ‘No, I haven’t.’ So I begin to tell them about it, I tell them about how long we’ve been around and what we do. I tell them about the anniversary event, and right then and there people are saying, ‘Yes, I’m interested. I want to buy tickets.’ It’s just surprising that so many people in the city do not know about us.”
With the efforts of Modica and board members like John Morley, Gail Ramer, Jerelyn Lindsay, Tonya Hendrix, Kristine Costa and Dustin Trotter, not only will more people in Santee know about the good works the group does, but more and more deserving residents will benefit from their services. For more information about Luau at the Lakes you can visit the Santee Santas website, visit them on Facebook or call any of the board members listed below. Several of the board members are even equipped with smartphone sliders to accept credit or debit cards (denoted with *).
*Sam Modica, 619-813-6422
Gail Ramer, 619-559-3597
*John Morley, 619-306-2479
Jerelyn Lindsay, 619-739-3632
*Tonya Hendrix, 619-301-0745
*Kristine Costa, 619-218-1793
Dustin Trotter, 619-454-4911