2017-07-14 / On The Town

Christmas comes early for local nonprofit

Charity event raises donations for food pantry
By Alicia Doyle
Special to the Acorn


HOLIDAY SPIRIT—The Channel Islands Gulls hopes to replicate the spirit of giving associated with the holiday season by hosting a Christmas in July luncheon tomorrow. The luncheon will include a food drive to benefit the St. Vincent de Paul Society Food Pantry. HOLIDAY SPIRIT—The Channel Islands Gulls hopes to replicate the spirit of giving associated with the holiday season by hosting a Christmas in July luncheon tomorrow. The luncheon will include a food drive to benefit the St. Vincent de Paul Society Food Pantry. Though temps in Camarillo are expected to be in the 80s this weekend, sleigh bells will ring as the Channel Islands Gulls celebrates Christmas in July at its monthly fundraising luncheon with a food drive to benefit the St. Vincent de Paul Society Food Pantry.

During the July 15 luncheon at Spanish Hills Country Club in Camarillo, the Gulls will collect hundreds of dollars worth of canned goods, as well as diapers, baby wipes and other supplies for those in need.

The Channel Islands Gulls is a women’s philanthropic group that raises funds exclusively for Ventura County nonprofits.

“We’ve been here for 40 years now, and our charities in Ventura County are mostly located in Oxnard, Ventura and Camarillo,” said Camarillo resident Maxine Exler, president of the Gulls. “In Santa Paula, there is such a need in this area with the low-income farmworkers. So we decided to give them a little boost in July.”

The food pantry, housed at St. Sebastian Church in Santa Paula, is a nonprofit organization founded in 1997 that’s run by volunteers. In addition to the food donations made through the Channel Islands Gulls, the public is welcome to make donations directly to the food pantry Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“We need nonperishable food items, like canned goods, rice, beans, pasta and cereal,” said Rosie Lugo, who runs the pantry with her husband, Tom.

Santa Paula is one of the poorest cities in Ventura County, Rosie Lugo said. Last month alone, the food pantry served 983 families, which equates to about 3,990 individuals.

“It’s mainly Hispanic migrant workers, so they’re the ones working the fields,” Lugo said. “In addition to providing them with food, we help them with rent and utilities, or if there’s a medical bill they can’t pay.”

Last year, the Gulls donated $2,000 to the food pantry, which helped eight underprivileged children attend a summer camp in Santa Barbara, Lugo said.

“The Gulls are very generous, and what they’re doing for us with this Christmas in July is a huge community service,” she said.

The Channel Islands Gulls were founded in 1976 by three women who are now deceased: Mary Beth Dersham, Wanda Pirkle and Florence Haney.

Today, the group has 170 members and is looking for more, Exler said.

“We’re open to all ages. We have some women in their 90s all the way down to 21,” said Exler, adding that the group is primarily made up of women, but men are also welcome.

“We support six to eight charities, mostly for women, such as the Lighthouse for Women that helps them back on their feet,” Exler said. “We’re trying to build up our membership so that people can contribute to helping Ventura County charities in need.”

For more information about the Channel Islands Gulls, visit www.channelislandsgulls.com, call (805) 492-4475 or email ChannelIslandsGulls@gmail.com.

For more information about the food pantry, call Tom or Rosie Lugo at (805) 525-8709 or (805) 625-3001, or email Lugotomandrosie@aol.com.

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