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Community SANTACRUZ cityof T hefallof2015 was a tough time for Yesica and Antonio Nuñez. Yesica Nuñez had quit her factory job because she was pregnant with the couple's second child. Antonio, who worked as a maintenance man at the Capitola Mall, had to shoulder the family bills. They paid the bills but only just. "The month of Decem- ber, there were so many bills to pay from out of nowhere," she said. While Nuñez and her husband welcomed a daughter, Sophia, in Octo- ber 2015, it also brought more bills. As Christmas approached, it was less likely the couple would be able to buy gifts for Sophia and their 5-year- old son Leonardo. But the Nuñez family received a call one day: They were being adopted through the Santa Cruz County Volunteer Center's Adopt- A-Family Project. Wi th a f ocus on strug- gling families, the project helps at least 450 families throughout Santa Cruz County each year. The Volunteer Center iden- tifies and screens the families through its 22 partner organizations each year. From there, a thick binder is created with pages profiling each family. Pages that say how many people are in each family, why they were identified and suggestions of how to help. Generous donors looking to spread holiday cheer call into the center and asked to be connected with needy families. Nuñez's family was in the binder last year. She and her husband, Antonio, were familiar with some of the center's services: they use the food bank and she regu- larly comes to the family resource center. But the Adopt-A-Family Project was new to them. "We were excited for my kids," Yesica Nuñez said. "They were going to have something to open on Christmas Day." After being told about being picked, Nuñez received a call from their adoptive family. Through conversation, she told them about her children, herself and what their family needed. Nuñez said the woman on the other end of the line made her feel like a friend. The day came when the Nuñez family met with their good Samaritans. The couple expected gifts for the children but when they opened the door, they were met with a group bearing about 20 wrapped packages: five gifts for each family member. The generosity was a surprise since nei- ther Antonio nor Yesica expected to receive gifts themselves. Yesica said her husband became a child again, shaking gifts addressed to him while he tried to discern what was inside. For Antonio and Ye- sica, their child- hood Christ- mas holidays weren't filled with gifts because they didn't expect them as children. On Christmas morning 2015, the family opened the gifts. Warm clothes and toys for the children. Winter clothing for the parents. Also gifted to them from their adoptive family was a grocery gift card, which Yesica used to buy and cook Christmas dinner. Though they were thank- ful for the gifts, Yesica and Anto- nio also wanted to ingrain in their kids that Christmas doesn't revolve around material goods. But they also rec- ognized that kids are kids. "Not everything is about money or gifts," Yesica Nuñez said. "Christmas is a little bit more and you're trying to teach them that. But they are also kids and see other kids that have gifts." This year is better for the family, with Antonio working a higher paying job over the hill. While Yesica Nuñez doesn't remember the generous donor's name but she has not forgotten the warmth they brought by the gen- erosity. "It was a hard year for us and we were blessed to get this program," she said. "I say it's a beautiful thing they're doing." By Calvin Men were adopted by the Santa Cruz County Volunteer Center's Adopt-A-Family Project. photosDanCoyro–santaCruzsentinel Yesica Nuñez with her children Sophia and Leonardo. Yesica and her husband Antonio were adopted by the Santa Cruz County Volunteer Center's Adopt-A-Family Project. Not everything isabout money orgifts –YesicaNuñez Adopt-A-FamilyProject BringsHolidayCheer tothe Nuñez Family BENLOMOND Valley Churches United Holiday Gift Shop is Open TheValleyChurchesUnitedHolidayGiftShop,9400Highway9,hasa variety of holiday gifts,toys,home goods,holiday decorations,jewelry and fashion accessories.More items arrive daily and purchases bene- fitValley Churches United,which assists residents in need throughout San LorenzoValley,ScottsValley and Bonny Doon. Thegiftshophoursare10a.m.to5p.m.weekdaysand11 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends through Dec. 24. For information, call 831-336-8258, ext. 222. APTOS Hanukkah concert Set for Dec. 16 The Rock ofAges Hanukkah Concert will feature the Rock Shabbat Band at 7 p.m.Dec.16 atTemple Beth El,3055 Porter Gulch Road. Children and young families are encouraged to attend the event. The evening will conclude with sufganiyot (doughnuts) and playing dreidel.This free event is sponsored by Lenore Hindin,the Janet Roth- child Rock Shabbat Fund and the Rabbi Paula Marcus Discretionary Fund.Information: tbeaptos.org or like us on Facebook at facebook.com/tbeaptos. SANTACRUZ Nutcracker Comes to Life at the Civic Tickets are on sale for the Santa Cruz BalletTheatre's presentation of the Nutcracker at the Santa Cruz CivicAuditorium,307 Church St. Performances are 8 p.m.Dec.16,1 and 4:30 p.m.Dec.17 and 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.Dec.18.Tickets will be available online at santacruz- tickets.com as well as at the Santa Cruz CivicAuditorium Box Office on Church Street,or by calling 831-420-5260.Box office hours are Tuesday through Friday 11 a.m.to 6 p.m.Tickets are $18.50 to $63.50 including service fees. Valley Churches United Holiday Gift Shop is Open Hanukkah concert Set for Dec. 16 Nutcracker Comes to Life at the Civic FRIDAY,DECEMBER9,2016 SANTACRUZSENTINEL.COM |COMMUNITY | 1 C

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