Despite Fire, Chamber Raises Funds to Aid Children in Court

The Maritime Museum hosted the Toast of the Season.

Despite what may be the worst wildfire in state history, Santa Barbara’s largest regional business organization raised money for charity with a Dec. 19 holiday party at the Maritime Museum with some 100 people in attendance. 

The “Toast of the Season” had been postponed from Dec. 14 as the Thomas fire made South Coast bad air almost unbreathable. 

The Tuesday night event by the Chamber of the Santa Barbara Region raised a great deal for charity, but the precise amount was not immediately available, according to Vice President Marketing Director Stephanie Armstrong.

Most of the funds raised were from a raffle of Christmas gift stockings with a variety of presents, included an airplane round trip or two from Surf Air, a plethora of gift baskets and other goodies. 

The nonprofit CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocates of Santa Barbara County, received proceeds from the chamber fundraiser. CASA’s goal is to is to ensure a safe, permanent, nurturing home for abused or neglected child by providing trained volunteers to advocate for them in the court system. 

Many other South Coast business events had been cancelled after the fire broke out in Ventura County Dec. 4 and grown toward some 300,000 acres, making it perhaps the largest fire of its kind in California history. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed or damaged and at least two people have died in the tragedy. 

Many of the business people at the chamber event not only lost revenue because of the fire, but many also had to be evacuated to escape the inferno. 

Even though South Coast air conditions have improved

and commercial areas such as Coast Village Road have reopened, retail businesses are seeing an estimated 50 percent drop in revenue this holiday season.   

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