City Councilman Mark Kersey and Tony Teravainen, USN (Ret.), President, CEO of S.T.E.P.,Â unload gifts for military families. (courtesy photo)
S.T.E.P. provides special ‘shopping’ day
Fifth District San Diego City Councilman Mark Kersey joined Support the Enlisted Project (S.T.E.P.), a Scripps Ranch based non-profit serving junior enlisted and transitioning veteran families through a financial crisis, with a holiday shopping day on Dec. 14. Supported with a toy drive hosted by Councilman Kersey, struggling military and veteran families had the opportunity to “shop” for holiday toys, clothing, baby necessities like diapers and wipes, small household items and other basic needs. Some items alleviate monthly expenses, and some are for the sheer joy of the giving season.
“Many people don’t realize that San Diego military families are also in need, so I’m honored to partner with S.T.E.P. to collect toys for our enlisted and transitioning veteran families,” Kersey said. “As we give out toys and other needed goods, it’s a joy to meet them and personally thank them for their service this holiday season.”
Kerrie Quinby, a San Diego native and donor also commented on the importance of the project.
“It’s an incredible sacrifice these families make to serve our country,” Quinby said. “I love San Diego, but it is not the least expensive city to be stationed in. If we can help alleviate some monthly expenses and provide some holiday joy for the family, it’s the least we can do.”
“Without the community support, many of these families would not be having a Christmas this year,” said Tony Teravainen, CEO and co-founder of S.T.E.P. “These families are away from home, struggling each month to meet their financial obligations and this allows them to redirect what they would have spent on gifts into reducing their debt or increasing their savings account. We’re grateful to Councilman Kersey and staff, and the generous community who steps up every year to make this possible.”
Families invited to shop are in the lowest pay grade in the military with incomes often under the poverty line set by HUD. They’ve come to STEP throughout the year because of a potential loss of a basic need – housing, food, car insurance, etc. They work with a social worker, trained in financial counseling, on an intense budgeting process and some will qualify for grants to get them caught up.
S.T.E.P.’s mission is to build financial self-sufficiency with young military and veteran families through financial counseling, emergency grants and other support programs.