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Holiday Baskets at the Del Mar Fairgrounds

Each year, volunteers help to make Holiday Baskets possible.  Volunteers are responsible for the collection and set up of food, outerwear, blankets, toys, and baby items for approximately 1,700 families every December.  Volunteers should be at least 13 years old for safety reasons.  Volunteers 12 and younger are encouraged to participate in the Holiday Baskets education program, which includes tours and special activities that help youth develop and understanding of the value of Holiday Baskets and learn the basics of sorting work at the distribution site.

Community Resource Center’s Annual Holiday Baskets Program is the largest comprehensive holiday distribution program of its kind in San Diego County, and like many charitable programs, it is seeing drops in donations this season and increases in need.

Hundreds of volunteers will be transforming the Grandstands at the Del Mar Fairgrounds into a 20,000 square-foot shopping warehouse so that a record 1,700 low-income families can experience “free” holiday shopping this season on December 20, 21, and 22.  Eligible North County families will fill their shopping carts or “baskets” with donated turkeys, staple foods, blankets, clothing, toys, and much more. 

Over 200 groups are now collecting items for the program and include schools, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, Rotary Clubs, the Encinitas Sheriff’s Department, local businesses and government, Ecke Ranch, Lusardi Construction, churches, foundations, and many more.  Community Resource Center supervises the deliveries, drop-offs, and distribution of items and the registration of families for the program. 

More than 1,600 volunteers and staff will be working around the clock to collect, sort and distribute food, toys, outerwear and much more at the Del Mar Fairgrounds site through December 22. 


(Please arrive 10 minutes earlier to check in and read posted instructions)


Holiday Baskets takes place at the Del Mar Fairgrounds on the first floor of the Grandstand Building. Parking is free for volunteers who enter through the Solana Gate entrance. Volunteers will be charged full price parking if they enter through other gates. 

To get to our site from the I-5 Freeway

Go to the VOLUNTEER Check-In Room.  Since you are part of a community group, only the leader (ie, Michael) needs to sign in.  Please spend at least 10 minutes reading the posted instructions for volunteer tasks so that you know what to expect.  We sometimes move volunteers to other positions if the need arises, so read all the descriptions.  The check-in person will tell you where you've been assigned.  Please do NOT bring valuables to the venue as we cannot accommodate secure storage for the volume of volunteers working with us.  Pack light and limit valuables to what can fit into your pockets, etc. (If it rains, you can stow umbrellas in the areas where you volunteer).

WEATHER PREP: Holiday Baskets takes place rain or shine. If your shift is longer than 4 hours, and rain is forecast, please bring an extra shirt and pair of socks just in case you get caught in the rain. 


Park as close as you can to the building.  Please note that Del Mar Fairgrounds parking staff may direct you to park in particular areas if other large events are taking place. NO SPEEDING PLEASE and be especially mindful of pedestrians, especially children, when you are entering or exiting parking areas. 


Please wear something warm and comfortable—wear layers.  Even if it’s warm and sunny outside, it will be several degrees cooler inside!  Tennis shoes/sneakers or similar are highly recommended (dress shoes are not recommended, and sandals or flip flops are not permitted for safety reasons). 


Enter the Grandstand Building through the Volunteer Entrance and sign in at the check-in table and wait for a staff member. You will be assigned a “job” for the shift.


Just yourself and a willingness to help others!

If you want to bring donations with you, they’ll be gratefully received. There’s no obligation to bring items.  We list them in this message only because so many volunteers ask for this information.  So, here are our high needs items accepted through the last day of distribution in case you’re interested (You may leave these in the Volunteer Check in room when you arrive). 

· Non-Perishable Food (all types - please no glass)

· Toys (NEW only – we cannot accept used toys for safety reasons and recalls)

· Jackets/Coats (all sizes, gently used or new)

· Blankets (all sizes, gently used or new)

· Bikes (all sizes, used or new)

· Baby Car Seats, Cribs, Strollers (gently used or new)

· Stuffed Animals:  (gently used or new)

If you are working a long shift (especially during distribution days) please bring a sack lunch and drinks!  We have a refrigerator on site that you can store your lunch in!

Flu & Cold Season SafetyIf you have a fever or other flu or cold symptoms, please stay home and get well soon.  Your health and the health of all of our volunteers is important to us!  As an added precaution, CRC will have sanitizer stations at key locations at the venue, but feel free to bring a small personal bottle of your own. 

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  • A former member
    A former member

    Thanks for coming out for this worthy cause. I think we made a significant dent in the workload!

    December 23, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I believe this is the 31st Annual Holiday Baskets program. I know little about it, but it looks like an excellent program. Young people encouraged to participate as well.

    November 14, 2013

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