SOS’ Adopt A Family program seeks donors for needy families for 50th year

Photo Gallery: Share Our Selves (SOS) annual Adopt A Family Program
John Corwin receives a handshake from Marilyn Smith after dropping off gifts last year at the OC Fair & Event Center for two families for Share Our Selves’ annual Adopt A Family program. The deadline for donors to participate this year is Dec. 11.
(File Photo)

Costa Mesa-based Share Our Selves is marking the 50th year of its annual Adopt A Family program, which aims to help many struggling Orange County families by providing gifts and food for the holidays.

More than 50,000 families have been “adopted” since the program began, and this year, Adopt A Family will connect donors with families with children recommended by Costa Mesa and Santa Ana organizations and schools.

SOS asks that donors agree to provide each child in the family with at least two new gifts and provide the family with a grocery store gift card for a complete holiday dinner. Gifts can be dropped off from 8 to 11 a.m. Dec. 18 at the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa.

To “adopt” one of the families below, note the family’s number and contact the Adopt A Family program at (949) 270-2187 or, or visit for a donor sign-up form. The deadline to participate is Dec. 11.


The following family descriptions and gift wish lists were provided by Share Our Selves:

Family No. 784

The mother in this family works two jobs and is raising her two children herself. She currently is renting a garage with few furnishings but has to pay for childcare, so her jobs don’t cover necessities. She says she wishes she could afford to buy toys for her son but money is too tight.

Family’s gift wish list:

  • 5-year-old boy: Loves car toys and would love a bike and helmet.
  • 18-month-old girl: Diapers, wipes, baby shampoo and clothing.
  • Mother: Northgate gift card for groceries and a Target gift card for toiletries, clothing and hygiene products. Would appreciate a gift card for Kohl’s or Ross to buy shoes.

Family No. 1380

The head of this family is a single mother who has had to overcome various obstacles after separating from her abusive partner and becoming homeless. She and her children had to stay in a shelter for 30 days. She has been working to make ends meet and recently acquired an apartment. She feels safe and stable in the new home but has little to fill the apartment with and would appreciate any help in getting back on her feet. The children need shoes, and small gifts for them to open on Christmas morning would bring them happiness.

Family’s gift wish list:


  • 13-year-old boy: Would love to receive clothes and shoes from WSS for playing outside. He also would love a wireless speaker and a skateboard.
  • 12-year-old girl: Would appreciate clothes and shoes from WSS as well as pajamas. She also would enjoy art supplies to continue her hobby.
  • 10-year-old boy: Would love a baseball hat and anything Angels-related. He also likes the color red and would like shoes from WSS to play outside with.
  • Mother: Kitchen items such as spoons, pots and pans and other household goods would be especially useful. A Target or TJ Maxx gift card also would be appreciated.

Family No. 48

Dad is a Marine stationed at the Miramar air base and is the only member of the family who is working. Mom is trying to find a job, but the cost of childcare is more than what she is able to earn in most cases. The family’s main priorities are food, rent and utilities, all of which come before holiday gifts. Donations for warm clothing, gift cards for food and essentials and some toys for their baby can bring the family some relief and cheer.

Family’s gift wish list:

  • 1-year-old boy: Favorite color is blue. He enjoys playing with balls and toy cars, likes “The Lion King” and could use a gift card for diapers and clothing at Walmart.
  • Mother: Gift card from Walmart, Target, Costco or Ross.
  • Father: Gift card from Walmart or Ross.

Family No. 1353

This family of four is headed by a single mother. Her husband died this summer and her family is still experiencing shock and grief. The family also is struggling financially. Mom is overwhelmed but she feels she has no time to grieve or see her children more often because she needs to work at her two jobs to maintain the household. Any gift cards for food, clothing or household appliances would mean the world to her.

Family’s gift wish list:

  • 17-year-old boy: Would appreciate any gift card for Ross for clothes. He also would love movie tickets so he can spend time with friends.
  • 11-year-old girl: She needs clothes for school and loves arts and crafts, especially painting. She would like paintbrushes, paint, canvases and other supplies so she can pursue her hobby.
  • 10-year-old girl: She would love anything related to soccer and volleyball. She also would enjoy a karaoke machine so she and her family can sing. She would love boxing gloves and likes to read. She also needs socks and would like a Vans gift card for shoes.
  • Mother: Warm clothes and pajamas for winter. A Ross gift card would be perfect. She also would like a WSS gift card for sturdy shoes while she works two jobs, and would love household appliances such as a microwave.

Family No. 1309

Grandma and Grandpa have been the legal guardians of their four grandchildren for more than a decade and have raised all of them. They are now struggling as they get older and deal with health issues, and they are unable to work as hard as they once did while still trying to provide for a family of six. They all share a small home and alternate nights on the bed, mattress and floor.

Family’s gift wish list:

  • 17-year-old girl: Would love makeup, eyelashes, nail polish, lotions and perfumes.
  • 16-year-old girl: Loves makeup and nail polish and would like a hair straightener. Her favorite colors are gray and black.
  • 14-year-old boy: He enjoys running and would like a skateboard and helmet and a gift card for clothes. His favorite colors are white, blue and black.
  • 12-year-old girl: She likes pastel colors and would love art supplies and a camera.
  • Grandmother: She enjoys going for walks, loves pastel colors and would like a new refrigerator because the current one is malfunctioning. Would appreciate a gift card for Food4Less for groceries.
  • Grandfather: He enjoys soccer, likes white shirts and would appreciate a gift card for clothes.

Family No. 1242

From the eldest child: “Hi, since I’m the big sister in my family, I’ll tell you about us. My little sister is just 4 years old and doesn’t go to school yet like I do. ... We don’t have a papa anymore, so we don’t have much money. We all live in one bedroom that Mama rents from a nice lady. She lets us use one shelf in the kitchen and one in her fridge for our dishes and food. Mama is looking for work, but it’s been really hard for her to get a job. We don’t have any relatives or friends who live near us to help. Mama gets scared and sometimes I hear her crying at night. I feel sad that I can’t do anything to help make things better.

“Since we don’t have much space in our bedroom, I think Mama would like it best if we just got small presents to open on Christmas. Maybe you could get us a really tiny plastic tree to put on the floor in the corner? I’d like it to have white light on it, if possible. I don’t really understand why you would buy toys and food for people you don’t even know, but Mama said sometimes really kind, nice people help others.”


Family’s gift wish list:

  • 6-year-old girl: Her favorite color is pink. She enjoys dolls and coloring. She would appreciate a warm coat for the winter and a gift card for shoes.
  • 4-year-old girl: Her favorite color is blue. She likes to play with stuffed animals and princesses. She would like a tricycle and helmet and a gift card for shoes.
  • Mother: Clothes, food, gift cards for El Super and Superior Market for groceries. Her favorite thing to do is bake.

Family No. 1430

The head of the family is a single mother who works hard to support her three children. She works in a nursery in Orange County, growing plants and vegetables. During the summer, hours at the nursery are cut, so she and her daughters move north to seek work in fields prepping, planting and picking fruits and vegetables. Despite her work ethic, it is a struggle to make ends meet, and it is difficult to adjust emotionally and financially every time they move.

Family’s gift wish list:

  • 12-year-old girl: Would like a curling iron, a Shoe City gift card and a Ross gift card for clothes.
  • 8-year-old girl: Would like a bicycle, books and a Shoe City gift card.
  • 3-year-old girl: Would like dolls, a baby doll stroller and a “Frozen” doll.
  • Mother: Would like bath towels, a microwave and a toaster oven.

Family No. 997

The mother of this small family is battling colon cancer. She has endured many rounds of chemotherapy since the beginning of the year and is starting radiation treatment. She remains determined to beat the disease and return to work to support her daughter. Her daughter knows her mother is fighting to be able to care for her and get in a better financial situation. A festive holiday meal, maybe some extra food to restock the pantry, some warm clothes and a personal gift or two would make them very happy and grateful.

Family’s gift wish list:

  • 14-year-old girl: Her favorite color is black. She likes shirts from Hot Topic and would like a hoodie sweatshirt. She enjoys drawing and painting and likes body spray from Victoria’s Secret. She also would like gift cards for Vans and Target.
  • Mother: Would like a white bathrobe, facial creams, fruit-scented candles, a Starbucks cup and gift card, and gift cards for H&M, Zara, Nike and Albertsons.

Family No. 1228

Mom and Dad are doing their best to provide for their son, who has autism and a speech and language impairment. He requires a great deal of time, attention and therapy, so Dad stays home to care for him and get him to his appointments. The parents struggle to make ends meet and cover basic living expenses on Mom’s income. Their priorities are rent and food, and there is nothing left over for extras such as holiday gifts.

Family’s gift wish list:

  • 9-year-old boy: His favorite color is green. He likes superheroes, especially Black Panther and Shazam. He also enjoys Minecraft and would love a skateboard.
  • Mother: She likes scented candles and lotions and shopping at Bath & Body Works. A gift card for Sephora or Kohl’s and one for Target or Walmart for groceries would be appreciated.
  • Father: He likes shopping at Kohl’s. His favorite team is the Minnesota Vikings. He would like a gift card for Home Depot or Bass Pro Shops.

Family No. 1400

This year Mom gave birth to premature twins who were born at 1 pound each. She knew she would have to stop working to take care of them. With Dad as the sole provider, their family of five has had to make adjustments and is struggling to make ends meet. Tucking gift cards into a small purse, wallet or pair of socks would give them something special to open on Christmas. Selecting a few age-appropriate toys for the children would bring smiles. A gift card from Food4Less or another discount market would help provide food for a holiday meal and some of the staples they will need to get through the winter.


Family’s gift wish list:

  • 2-year-old boy: Likes Play-Doh, Legos, bubbles and Mickey Mouse and would appreciate books, clothes and a gift card for shoes.
  • Two 8-month-old girls: Pajamas with buttons (for G-tube feeding), 8-ounce Dr. Brown’s bottles and size 3 diapers.
  • Mother: Clothes, a WSS gift card for shoes, two baby walkers and two baby carriers.
  • Father: Clothes, especially shirts, and a gift card for shoes from WSS, Shoe City or Target.

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