Living the San Francisco Dream


A New San Francisco Christmas Tradition: the Adopt-a-Family program

Two years ago our family began a new Christmas tradition which has become my favorite: participating in the Adopt-a-Family program with Compass Family Services.

Each November we request a family of 4 to "adopt" for the holidays. Each year we have been given 2 families, a mom with a young daughter. We learn a bit about them-ages of the children, clothing sizes, their goals for their futures, most needed gift items, etc. We learn which grocery stores are near them, which movie theater are convenient, what activities they like to do as a family.

wrapping Adopt-a-Family gifts

Then, the 7 of us get to work. My daughter Susan hits Costco for household items (a rice cooker, pots & pans, bath towels) and movie tickets. Daughter Elizabeth heads to local shops in the San Carlos and Redwood City areas, looking for special treats. Our 12-year old delights in shopping for toys for the little ones (this year ages 2 and 5) with her sister, Rachael. Rachael puts her sense of style to good use choosing clothing items. Gene and I enjoy walking around town, getting gift cards to the Academy of Sciences and the Exploratorium, a gift card to a Vietnamese restaurant for one and to Red Lobster for another, grocery cards for both, and a gift card to a requested department store (Macy's, Ross, Forever 21) and a few special items for the moms. Susan's husband, Gary, pitches in too.

wrapped gifts for Compass Family Services

By early December we're ready to host our Holiday Gift Wrapping Party. The Christmas decorations are up, the music is playing, a finger-food buffet is out. Rolls of wrapping paper and boxes of bows await, and it begins. Lots of laughter and smiles while the 7 of us wrap, decorate, and tag the gifts, taking great care to keep each family's presents in their own pile.

Santa's Elves

In less than 2 hours the house was transformed into a spot of beauty, and our hearts happy. The next morning we loaded the car and dropped off the gifts, ready to be picked up by the families.

Delivering gifts to Compass Family Services

The Adopt-a-Family program is completed for 2013, but the assistance provided to struggling San Francisco families by Compass Family Services continues year round through 7 unique programs geared to helping families become stabilized and self-sufficient.

San Franciscans (and nearby family) helping San Franciscans - my favorite new tradition.


--- Come for a visit; Stay for a lifetime!

Lottie Kendall, Realtor®


CA DRE#10215160; 650-465-4547

Peninsula Living Business Page



Comment balloon 13 commentsLottie Kendall • December 16 2013 07:42AM


I love it Lottie. It is the true spirit of the season and I can see that it would be the highlight of it too. Helping others is a good way to fill our hearts with joy.

Posted by Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD, REALTORS® in Clark County, WA (ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors) almost 7 years ago

Wow! Great tradition, Lottie.  Having the whole family pitch in makes it fun as well as rewarding.  I like the idea of 'adopting' the whole family.  Your adopted family will have a bright Christmas thanks to you & your family.

Posted by Mary Yonkers, Erie/PA Real Estate Instructor (Alan Kells School of Real Estate/Howard Hanna Real Estate) almost 7 years ago

Lottie, Nothing makes a heart fill up with joy faster than helping others and giving. Blessings to you and your family for supporting Compass Family Services and sponsoring families in need at Christmas. 

Posted by Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist, Probate Real Estate (KD Realty - 408.972.1822) almost 7 years ago

Hi Lottie, that sounds like a great program and I am sure participating makes you feel good inside knowing you are helping families in need to be able to enjoy a wonderful Christmas.

Posted by Scott Larson, Park City, Utah Real Estate News (BHHS/Utah Properties) almost 7 years ago

Debb, this program strikes a chord in my heart.

Mary, Compass Family Services helps so many people, I'm glad our family can support them in this way.

Kathleen, it's a great family bonding experience for us

Scott, yep, it's my favorite activity this time of year.

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) almost 7 years ago

Lottie - How your family gives back during the holidays is really a wonderful thing to do, but I think the lessons of giving, caring, and being a good citizen that you are sharing with your Granddaughter are the true gifts given here. Ones that she will carry with her for a life time and always remember this time that she spent with her Grandmother.  Happy Holidays!

Posted by Laura Allen, Lake Tahoe - Truckee Real Estate for Sale, Tahoe Real Estate Agent Helping Buyers and Sellers (Coldwell Banker, Tahoe City, CA (530) 414-1260) almost 7 years ago

Laura, finding a way to involve the entire family is, indeed, a joy. I loved seeing their smiling faces, and the pride the young ones took in reaching out a hand to others. I hope both granddaughters look back on this Christmas tradition as one of their highlights of the season, too. Wouldn't it be great if they continued it??

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) almost 7 years ago

Lottie  Someday there will be stories told by your family about Lottie's ability to get the whole family smiling...  That rocks!

Posted by John G. Johnston, An Exclusive Buyer's Agent ~ Westcliffe, CO (John G. Johnston & Associates, LLC) almost 7 years ago

That is truly paying it forward. The positive impact that you will make in the life of another is priceless. Well done!

Posted by Joe Petrowsky, Your Mortgage Consultant for Life (Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709) almost 7 years ago

Lottie, such a wonderful way to make a difference in our communities. We've participated here in Phoenix since 1986. And Laura hit the nail on the head. What you're doing with your Granddaughter is so important and the reason that year after year Americans continue to be the most benevolent country on earth. We learn from our parents and grandparents how to treat others.

Posted by Nancy Laswick, Your REALTOR® For The Valley Of The Sun (United Real Estate) almost 7 years ago

Wow - thanks, John -- that's an awesome thought!

Thanks, Joe, but I think our family probably derives as much pleasure from this event as the recipients do.

Nancy, I'm not at all surprised that you pitch in where needed in Phoenix. This is a fabulous way for our family to work together, each in our own way.

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) almost 7 years ago

Hi Lottie,My name is Reyna Alcala and I'm a single mother of three a survivor of domestic violence and I was just searching for Christmas assistance and I came across this site and id like to say it's wonderful to see what you and your family did for families in need like myself. I wish I can find someone like you. Keep up the good work and God bless you and your family

Posted by Reyna Alcala almost 3 years ago

Hello Reyna - thank you for taking the time to comment. I don't know where you are located, but I hope you find some joy and assistance this holiday season. I will think of you and your family as we participate in our local Adopt-a-Family program again this year. Wishing you well, your San Francisco friend.

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) almost 3 years ago