Volunteers of the Month for December 2022

Congratulations to Holiday Baskets Shopping Captains,

Anastacia Grenda, Wendy Rees and Kathy Ling!

These three were an integral part of the leadership team that made Holiday Baskets such a smooth and successful program for 2022

Cathie Byrd, Holiday Baskets Project Coordinator writes:

“I first worked with Wendy and Anastacia for HB21 where they assumed the “Family Box” Captains role and created processes and procedures, were boots on the ground with filling boxes and worked on distribution day at Mira Costa College. This year, they assumed the role of volunteer “Shopping Captains”. Throughout the year, we worked together to build and finely tune all aspects of the HB shopping experience. They also recruited 8 high level volunteers as ” Co-Captains” to manage the 4 main shopping areas which are Pre shopping, Concierge and Host, Shopping Area and Checkout/Exit. Their leadership during the development process and facilitation of HB22 was absolutely essential to its success.

Kathy Ling is a long-time CRC volunteer and often supports Sara (CRC’s Volunteer Manager) with volunteer check in. This year, she assumed the role of “Donation Tracker Captain”. She created the donation tracking process and tracked all blanket and senior bag donations for me. She was also willing to help with mapping. She worked closely with Anastacia and Wendy on Holiday Baskets logistics and the volunteer and co-captain trainings that we created. She was an essential lead on distribution day as well.”

Their Stories of Volunteerism

How did you get involved as volunteers at CRC and why do you continue to support the Holiday Baskets program?

Anastacia Grenda

At left, Anastacia

“I first volunteered at Holiday Baskets 10 years ago because I wanted my then-8-year-old son Jack to start helping others at an early age. Jack is off at college now, but the rest of my family and I continue to volunteer at Holiday Baskets because the spirit of joy and community there is just as strong today as it was back then.

There is nothing like seeing the smiles on people’s faces as they pick out the toys they will give their kids or receive much-needed fresh food or warm blankets.

There was a time in my life when I needed extra assistance during the holidays, and I know how important it is to give back and help others the way that others helped me when I was in need. I am so grateful to be part of something as meaningful as Holiday Baskets.”


Wendy Rees

Wendy with her daughter

“In short, my good friend and neighbor, Anastacia, slowly and surely got me more and more involved in CRC Holiday Baskets over the past few years. My daughter and I started volunteering, through NCL, in 2018. We worked in the infant and toddler section, but got a chance to do some hosting, which we really enjoyed. We loved being able to see how much the program helps folks and how much that help is appreciated. While hosting that first year, we ran into Anastacia, who was working in the hospitality area and had already been involved with Holiday Baskets for a while.

In 2019, Anastacia and I roped my husband into fixing the cornhole game and my daughter and I helped in the infant and toddler section and got to host again. In 2020, Anastacia, our daughters and I helped in the hospitality area for the volunteers at the first drive-thru event.

In 2021, Anastacia mentioned that Holiday Baskets needed help with family boxes, so we committed to doing that together. And when Cathie asked us to help with the Target shopping experience this year, we were all in! This year, when I saw a shopper hug her Host and Concierge at Checkout, it was a beautiful reminder of how grateful folks are for the support of their community.”


Kathy Ling

Kathy with her family

“My CRC Holiday Baskets journey started in 2008 when I coordinated a food drive for my daughter’s baby playgroup. At the time, I did not know much about CRC or the Holiday Baskets program. Fast forward five years to 2013: every year, my daughter’s elementary school held a toy and coat drive for Holiday Baskets. I was on the PTA Board and was responsible for coordinating the collection and delivery of the toys and coats. One year, I was offered a tour of the Del Mar Fairgrounds set up when I dropped off the donations. I was so impressed by the community involvement necessary to provide items and create a wonderful shopping experience.

In 2017, I started volunteering for set-up and distribution days with friends and family. I had such a great experience that I continued volunteering each year. Volunteer check-in for pre-distribution allowed me to learn more details about the program, and I had the opportunity to give tours to the volunteers and donors helping each person feel a personal connection to Holiday Baskets. During the two years of Mira Costa College drive-thru distributions, I was fortunate to still be involved with volunteer check-in, warehouse coordination, and senior bag delivery. This year, I supported logging blanket and senior bag donations and provided leadership at the Target shopping experience for clients.”

As the Holiday Baskets program has evolved over the last 10 years, I feel privileged to be part of the team of volunteers that makes it happen. I have told family and friends that I love how the community gets involved beyond donating items. This is what makes Holiday Baskets unique—the amount of care and initiative shown by the people that work to support it. I volunteer my time to support CRC because they provide critical services in our neighborhood. Holiday Baskets has provided me with the opportunity to help give back to my community in a way that benefits volunteers and clients, and I hope it will continue to provide the same experience for all that are involved.