ATASCADERO — Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County picked up more than 1,100 wrapped holiday presents donated by the staff of Atascadero State Hospital on Wednesday, Dec. 18.

This is the 28th year that more than 2,000 staff members at the hospital have worked together to buy gifts for Head Start Students at all nine Head Start Centers in San Luis Obispo, which are run by CAPSLO. This year the staff purchased presents for 268 children. On Nov. 20, a holiday tree decorated with children’s names was placed in the hospital’s lobby. Since then, employees have brought their gifts of clothes or toys, wrapped and ready, for the kids.

“This year, all kids are on the nice list,” said Phillip Koziel, Public Information Officer at ASH and coordinator of this massive undertaking.

CAPSLO sent four buses and several SUV’s to pick up all of the gifts.

“I was trying to count the number of gifts, but lost track at about 1,100,” Koziel said.

The program collected gifts, toys and clothing for children at Head Start schools in Atascadero, Cambria, Five Cities, Los Osos, Morro Bay, Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo. Hospital staff began preparing for the event in September.

Head Start is a Federal program that promotes the school readiness of children from birth to age five from low-income families by enhancing their cognitive, social and emotional development. CAPSLO has been running these programs since 1965, with the first Head Start Center in Nipomo.

CAPSLO’s CEO, Elizabeth “Biz” Steinberg began her career with the organization by running and teaching at the Head Start programs.

“We are so thankful for these amazing donations from the staff at the Atascadero State Hospital,” Steinberg said. “These gifts will bring such joy to these children during the holiday season.”

CAPSLO has been San Luis Obispo County’s federally-designated community action agency since 1965. Each year, the agency provides services to more than 38,000 individuals in 11 California counties, offering a range of services that help low-income individuals increase their economic stability and level of self-sufficiency.

For more information, visit capslo.org or call 805-544-4355.

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