Soroptimist Secret Santa’s Deliver

Soroptimist Secret Santas

The Pandemic Didn't Keep Santa Claus from coming to Borrego Springs

This month, Santa’s Borrego friends collected and delivered big boxes of food and overflowing gift baskets, containing $100 in Soroptimist Secret Santa cash.

The Borrego Springs community responded generously to the $100 Soroptimist Secret Santa request, with enough funds to meet the goal of brightening Christmas for 18 families with cash and baskets of gifts and food for the families of women, who are primary providers for their families, and have lost jobs due to the pandemic, care for an elderly, or ill parent, and have children of their own.

Soroptimist Secret Santa Gift Basket

The women were identified by Borrego organizations, like the Borrego Ministers Association that have been assisting families, as families relying on charity, and the Borrego Food Bank to get through these challenging times.  Dubbed the “she-cession” by experts for the disproportionate impact the pandemic-led recession has had on housing, unemployment and childcare for working women. Women working heads of households, earning hourly wages have been the hardest hit by closures of restaurants, hotels, and other low paying jobs.  Last May, unemployment rates for women were up 1,368 percent over the previous year, making up 80 percent of all workers who have been dropped from the workforce.

An example of a family that received Secret Santa gifts is headed by a single mother, who is not able to work.  She has no family nearby; lost her car temporarily; has three young children, including one that is a year old, and is pregnant with another child on the way.

Soroptimist Secret Santa teams collected donations, packaged and wrapped baskets, and delivered to 18 homes, who like this example, are the primary wage earners, and facing difficult pandemic-related financial situations.  The Secret Santa gifts were supplemented with generous donation from the Food Bank.

“We couldn’t believe how quickly people responded with $100 Secret Santa donations. It was just a two-week campaign. Even though it’s a less than normal Christmas for everyone, people realized that for some the holidays were going to be harder than usual. Just goes to show how folks in Borrego respond to neighbors in need. A special thanks to the organizations and businesses that contributed. We are very grateful for everyone’s generosity."
Soroptimist International of Borrego Springs
Judy Stewart
Soroptimist International of Borrego Springs President
Soroptimist Secret Santas
Soroptimist Secret Santa Gift Basket

The collection point, Ellen Fitzpatrick’s Graphics You Can Trust storefront, in The Mall, was filled with donated items for the gift baskets such as 30 children’s Spanish and English reading books from the Anza Borrego Desert Natural History Association (ABDNHA). 

Additional business donations included: $50 Frugal Coyote gift certificates from the Ministers Association; the Palms at Indian Head gave $10- gift certificates; packages of fudge from the Fudge Factory; the 18 baskets and Saran wrap came from the Frugal Coyote; Borrego Outfitters provided Olive oil and Jelly.  The baskets contained gifts from Borregans, like Beth Hart, who donated Beanie Bag toys.

Gifts from Soroptimist members, and other individuals included art supplies, stuffed animals, baked cookies, children’s toys, socks, masks, soap, toothpaste, sanitizers, and other household items.

“It was like magic. People kept popping in with money and gifts and, to help. In the very best tradition of giving, the store was totally brimming with Christmas spirit and love.”
Soroptimist International of Borrego Springs
Ellen Fitzpatrick
Soroptimist Member/ Owner of Graphics You Can Trust

According to Fitzpatrick, a “show stopper” was the big box of food, collected and contributed by the Food Bank supporters. “We want to thank Anne and Jim Wermers for the space in The Mall to store and package food, the Fredericks family, and all the volunteers for inspiring this ongoing community resource.”

In addition to the Food Bank’s usual selection of canned goods, eggs, tortillas, beans, and milk, there was a special holiday surprise – a large turkey, or ham in each box delivered with the Soroptimist Secret Santa cash and gift baskets.

According to one Soroptimist Secret Santa, the best part of the contribution campaign was delivering to the homes; witnessing the excitement of the children seeing the gift baskets, and the tearful gratitude of many moms.

Soroptimist Secret Santa

$100 Donation to go to neediest families

In our community, women, mothers and daughters are struggling as heads of households to provide for their families during the pandemic. Many clean houses or are working two or three jobs a day. Some women are raising young children on their own and cannot work.  For many, the virus has taken away employment women and other family members counted on. Now these women have the burden of placing food on the table. They may be taking care of elderly parents, who may be disabled or ill, as well as working and caring for their children, or younger brothers and sisters.

Neighbors helping neighbors

Borrego Springs charity organizations have joined together throughout the pandemic to meet requests for food, diapers, money for emergencies, back rent money, replacing an electric heater, car problems, broken windows, blankets, and other personal items the family can no longer afford.

you can help!

Now it’s Christmas. For these families, there will be no extra money for sharing the joys of giving and celebrating the holidays. A special Soroptimist Secret Santa donation of $100, in the spirit of neighbors helping neighbors, will bring some Christmas joy to each family selected.

Secret Santas can also send a check to P.O. Box 504, Borrego Springs, CA, 92004, or drop off at Graphics You Can Trust in The Mall, weekdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Please note on checks or cash “Soroptimist Secret Santa.”

Borrego Springs Face Mask Project: We Got You Covered

Started in March, the Soroptimist International of Borrego Springs’ Mask Project has been ongoing, through the heat of summer and now into fall and winter. Borrego Springs’ masks have been sewn by volunteers in Borrego Springs, Palomar Hospital Volunteer Circle, and as far away as Illinois! Masks are continually gathered and packaged for distribution through our eight town locations.

Residents and visitors alike have welcomed our displays and helped us collect more than $3,000 over the span of the endeavor. This project has been another example of how Soroptimist Ladies take on a challenge and pull through for the girls and women in their community. The masks have helped thousands, and the volunteers who purchase, sew, advertise, and distribute these masks have expressed the rewarding feeling that involvement gives them.

Jean Brugger busy sewing masks for Borrego Springs

Jean Brugger stops by Graphics You Can Trust to sew for a few hours on occasion. She says she finds it relaxing. Being a quilter, Jean saves every scrap of fabric after she cuts her mask patterns! She recently found a few attractive masculine fabrics she will incorporate into her larger masks now. Now that the heat has finally subsided, we have visitors coming to town, and as popular as motorcycle clubs are, we figure making some larger sizes will help cover our guest-riders. Jean has also supplied quite a few child-sized masks for our Halloween Trunk-or-Treat event at The Mall, where each child chose their own free mask.

As to a quote from Brugger, “I’m only here for a few months while my husband works an assignment with ABSDP, so when I saw the call for volunteers to sew, I was delighted to do my small part to help keep Borrego safe! I’ve been coming here with him for over 25 years and Borrego Springs and the surrounding desert have a very special place in my heart.”

Pammy Sherill at Desert Pantry Grocery Store

Pammy Sherrill, who works at Desert Pantry Grocery Store, is thankful for the Soroptimist Mask Display. When the pandemic started, customers would sometimes enter the store, having forgotten to bring a mask. Having a counter display offering masks to the public for a small donation, was, and continues to be, a great help keeping staff and customers safe.

Annmarie Tidwell participated in the volunteer sewing effort this summer, borrowing the Soroptimist loaner sewing machine, donated by Soroptimist Anne Wermers. Annmarie created countless two-ply cotton medical-style masks for distribution through our store displays around Borrego Springs.

“It gave me a sense of purpose that I haven’t had since I retired. I felt like I was contributing once again. It felt wonderful,” said Tidwell.

Soroptimists are sincerely grateful to those who have pitched in to make this project a success!  We want to keep our beloved residents and visitors safe and are thankful to those who are donating to our mission of providing education scholarships and mentoring to girls and women.

Soroptimists Have You Covered

Borrego Springs soroptimists have you covered

Beginning April 6, a COVID-19 Fact Sheet was composed by Soroptimist Linda Stanley, and designed with local logos and contacts by Ellen Fitzpatrick, both Borrego Springs Soroptimist members. These fact sheets were distributed ahead of the Borrego Springs COVID-19 Task Force information was eventually dispersed to all Borrego Springs P.O. Boxes.

Distributed along with the Fact Sheet were bandanas, initially purchased in batches by more Borrego Soroptimists, Gloria Gustine and Judy Stewart, for making DIY masks with hair ties. Bandanas proved to be very popular. (Honestly, the men like them just to wear like bandits.)

The Mask Displays were immediately accepted by Center Market and Desert Pantry grocery stores, so customers could comply with California mask requirements. Following them, Village Liquors & Market, Calico’s, Jilberto’s, Community Valley Bank, Red Ocotillo and Carlee’s all accepted a counter display for our Mask Project, and began collecting donations of $1 each. Customers were both enthusiastic and generous. Within two weeks, our public service project became a profitable ‘business’. At that time the mask committee could hardly keep the mask displays filled.

Local Borrego businesses, attempting to remain open during the quarantine, were critical to holding the line on social distancing and mask wearing. It’s fair to say that not all Californians were ready, able, or happy to suddenly be required to wear a mask.  Even today, three months later, masks are currently required on staff but “suggested” for customers in other part of California. The fact that Borrego businesses chose to make masks mandatory and recognize the particular risks that a tourist town faces is a credit to their own personal integrity and concern for the safety of their staff.

The Borrego Springs Soroptimists are grateful to be able to offer shoppers a mask should they not have one. Residents and visitors shopping here have supported the project wholeheartedly and continue to contribute generously and purchase masks at all the locations.

April 14, we received a donation of sewn medical masks from the Palomar Hospital Volunteer Sewers. We received 150 masks, followed by another 280 masks two weeks later. They disappeared overnight from our displays, as customers seemed to be buying multiples of the colorful, washable masks! Our distribution expanded out to West Shores at the Salton Sea, with donations of masks to Ocotillo Wells’ students in the school lunch program. BCHF Cottages and the Food Bank also received our masks free of charge.

Demand for masks Outstrips Supplies

Meanwhile, the supply could not keep up with demand, and bandanas became impossible to get. Our ‘business’ got creative and began cutting TEE shirts into rectangles with ear slots, which are amazingly comfortable! And, in fact, look nice with screen-printed logos. That led to Wild Heart Company Screenprinting’s Cristina Mitchell, who offered to print various business logos on the TEE masks, with the assistance of Graphics You Can Trust.

Frugal Coyote and the American Legion’s Bargain Barn contributed batches of used TEES and the project grew again. This opened up the opportunity for businesses to sponsor a TEE Mask, at $50 for 50 masks, and the Soroptimists receive the $1 donation when the masks are purchased. So far, more than 200 TEE Masks have been printed and distributed, with new orders now coming in from local mask sponsors.

On May 23, 500 more medical masks from Palomar came to Borrego. Here we are in June and it looks like mask requirements will continue through summer, so we will keep up the cutting, printing and bagging three types of masks for the shopping community.

the Latest Update

As of May 20, the Mask Project has brought in more than $1300 in donations, and production presses on.

Please donate! Support Women Helping Women.

Wear a mask. And be safe out there!

Marching For Local Women and Girls

Soroptimists and "S" Club members marching in the Borrego Days Parade
“S” Club and Soroptimist members marching at Borrego Days in 2017

For the second year in a row, the members of Soroptimist International of Borrego Springs and the Borrego Springs High School “S” Club, a teen action-oriented volunteer club, are teaming up to march for women and girls in the community of Borrego Springs and throughout the world. Soroptimist International of Borrego Springs is a volunteer organization that assists women and girls to “Live Their Dreams” through education scholarships, career workshops and mentoring opportunities. “S” Clubs are considered an outreach program of the Soroptimist organization, and a vital way for high school students to learn about serving others and helping their communities both near and far.

This month, the Borrego Springs High School “S” Club selected their second major fundraising opportunity: helping fund the new Borrego Springs Library. The “S” Club will be raising awareness for library funding and hoping to raise their goal of $1,000 at their Borrego Days booth.

Soroptimist International of Borrego Springs also has an important cause: they will be collecting gift cards, unopened personal hygiene items, baby supplies and gently-worn or new clothing for survivors of sex trafficking in San Diego County. The drive is part of a larger call to action in partnership with STAT! (Soroptimists Together Against Trafficking), where women of Soroptimist International join together to raise awareness of sex trafficking and support the survivors in our county. You can drop off any of the listed items at the Soroptimist booth at Borrego Days, October 20 and 21.

“We love that both Soroptimist and our ‘S’ Club are raising awareness for organizations who make a difference in the lives of women and girls, right here in San Diego County,” says Judy Stewart, President of Soroptimist International of Borrego Springs. “We ask that all festival attendees stop by our booths and learn how they can make a difference, right here at home!”

Dream It Be It Logo

Dream It, Be It Career Day

First-of-Kind Girls’ Career Day Comes to Borrego Springs

Soroptimist International of Borrego Springs members know, “if you can dream it, you can do it!” The local volunteer club has created a career day focused on inspiring Borrego Springs High School girls to dream big, then empowering them to follow that dream.

The Dream It, Be It Career Day features eight amazing women speakers, in a myriad of careers, to share their life stories in diverse career paths. Julia Anguiano, who graduated from Borrego Springs High school, is day’s keynote speaker. Julia, recently chosen as the Soroptimist International of Borrego Springs’ 2018 Live Your Dream winner, and awarded a $1000 scholarship, will soon complete her degree at the University of San Francisco.

Dream It, Be It: Career Support for Girls helps girls grow up to be strong, successful, happy adults. Dream It, Be It targets girls in secondary school who face obstacles to their future success. It provides girls with access to professional role models, career education and the resources to live their dreams.

The career day will take place at the Senior Center on Saturday, April 28, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Lunch will be provided by local Kendall’s restaurant and the club is grateful to the Senior Center for donating their building to accommodate this important and groundbreaking day.

Please see Martha Deichler at the school district office to receive a registration packet. All Borrego Springs High School girls are encouraged to attend.

Wireless Transmission Technology - Women Inventions

10 Things You Didn’t Know Women Invented

International Women’s Day is March 8, so Soroptimist International of Borrego Springs member, Anne W., did a little research to share and celebrate women inventors and inventions by women!

Here are 10 Things You Didn’t Know Women Invented!

1. Monoply

Monopoly - Women Inventions

Monopoly was originally invented to expose injustice

This popular board game was designed by Elizabeth Maggie in 1904, originally called the Landlord’s Game. The purpose of this game was to expose the injustices of unchecked capitalism.

Her game was ripped off by Charles Darrow who sold it to Parker Brother’s 30 years later. However, Parker Brothers later paid Elizabeth $500 for her game.

2. The Car Heater

The Car Heater - Women Inventions

Brrrr! Thanks for keeping our hands warm on those chilly mornings!

Cold hands, warm hearts, though! We all owe our thanks to Margaret A. Wilcox who invented the car heater in 1893! Margaret also invented a combined clothes and dishwasher.

3. The Life Raft

The Life Raft - Women Inventions

The lifesaving Life Raft was invented by Maria Beasely in 1882

The lifesaving Life Raft was invented by Maria Beasely in 1882. Maria also invented a machine that makes barrels, as well.

4. Residental Solar Heating

Residential Solar Heating - Women Inventions

Solar heating for residential housing was invented by Dr. Maria Telkes in 1947

Solar heating for residential housing was invented by Dr. Maria Telkes in 1947. Dr. Telkes was a Psychiatrist in addition to being a  Solar-Power Pioneer.

5. The Computer Algorithm

The Computer Algorithm - Women Inventions

Her ideas and notes were an essential key to helping Alan Turing’s work on the first modern computers in the 1940’s

Ada Lovelace is essentially the first computer programmer due to her work with Charles Babbage at the University of London in 1842.  In fact, her ideas and notes were an essential key to helping Alan Turing’s work on the first modern computers in the 1940’s. His work is now being recognized as one of the critical programs that helped the world defeat Hitler and the Nazi’s.

6. Wireless Transmission Technology

Wireless Transmission Technology - Women Inventions

Yes, this means Wi-Fi!

Hedy Lamarr, a world famous film star, invented a secret communications system during World War II for radio-controlling torpedoes. This technology also paved the way for everything from GPS to even the Wi-Fi you are probably using right now!

7. Closed-Circuit Television Security (CCTV)

Closed Circuit TV - Women Inventions

Ms. Brown’s invention was created in response of the lack of assistance of police officers in 1969 to help people ensure their own security

Marie Van Brittan Brown invented CCTV because of the slow response of police officers in 1969 to help people ensure their own security.  This invention influenced modern CCTV systems used for home security and police work today.

8. Kevlar

Kevlar - Women Inventions

Five times stronger than steel!

This life-saving material was invented by Stephanie Kwolek, in 1965. It is five times stronger than steel and used to make bulletproof vests.

9. The First User-Friendly Software Ever

Computer Software - Women Inventions

Also coined the term “bug”, in reference to a glitch in a computer system

Dr. Grace Murray Hopper was a computer scientist that invented COBOL which is the first user-friendly business computer software system in the 1940’s.

She was also a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy and the first person to use the term “bug” in reference to a glitch in a computer system when she literally found a bug (moth) causing problems with her computer!

10. Telecommunications Technology

Telecommunications Technology - Women Inventions

So now go call your mother…

Some of the Telecommunication Technology developed by Dr. Shirley Jackson include: the portable fax, touch tone telephone, solar cells, fiber optic cables, and the technology behind caller ID and call waiting.

Surprised? Not surprised? Comment below or on our Facebook page with your thoughts!

"S" Club members making Valentine's gift bags

Volunteering on Valentine’s Day

Borrego Springs “S” Club Valentine’s Day Volunteering

Valentine’s Day isn’t all about prose and roses! At least, that’s what the Borrego Springs High School “S” Club proved on Wednesday, February 14. 17 “S” Club members spent their Valentine’s Day afternoon packing Valentine’s Day greetings and gifts for residents at the child’s home, Una Salida, located in Mexicali, Mexico. Exactly 30 bags were sweetly arranged, complete with: small gifts, school supplies, candy and hand-written notes from each “S” Club member.

Borrego Spring "S" Club Valentine's Day volunteering

Valentine’s Volunteering Delivery

The gifts were then delivered to Una Salida by Ernie and Debbie Loza on Saturday, February 17, where they were received with excitement and appreciation. The teens plan to write back to “S” Club members, as well.

Who knows, perhaps we have some new pen pals in this digital age!

“S” Club and Soroptimists Eclipse Santa

“S” Club and Soroptimist of Borrego Springs Eclipse Santa

Making the New Year bright means ending 2017 on a high note. That’s just what Borrego Springs “S” Club members did by playing Santa Claus and delivering special gift bags to local assisted living facility residents at Mountain View.

In mid-December six special gift bags were donated by Umpqua Bank Assistant Vice President, Claudia Castaneda. “S” Club member, Samantha Hernandez, then organized the gifts and Soroptimists of Borrego Springs then presented them to our local assisted living facility residents at Mountain View.

“S” Club member, Yuridia Leal, and local Soroptimists visited residents on that delivery day. They talked, read and gave each resident a Christmas gift bag filled with essential items each resident could use.

“The ‘S’ Club is a committed group of youth helping to make Borrego Springs a better place,” stated Soroptimist International of Borrego Springs Media Chair, Marcie Grube, “They definitely demonstrated this holiday season our senior community members are important and ensured they were cared.”

Soroptimist International of Borrego Springs and the “S” Club look forward to a bright 2018, all year long!

Borrego Springs “S” Club Raises Over $800 for Mexico Earthquake Survivors

Borrego Springs “S” Club Awareness Boomed at Borrego Days

After marching with Soroptimist International of Borrego Springs members in the Borrego Days Parade, the newly formed Borrego Springs “S” Club, made up of Borrego Springs High School students, manned their own awareness booth and had over $800 donated to their first cause: helping survivors of the earthquake in Central Mexico.

“We are delighted that the ‘S’ Club’s first project resonated with Borrego Days Festival attendees and Borrego Springs residents,” says Kathy Jorgensen, President of Soroptimist International of Borrego Springs and “S” Club advocate. “Our girls were well-prepared and showed their passion and dedication in helping others. They are amazing advocates for this first project.”

Now begins the hard decision of deciding which worthy organization can best use the donations to help the survivors of the Central Mexico earthquake.

“We’ll definitely send an update on their decision and we know it will be a good one!” added Jorgensen.