Local Spotlight: Jennifer Buchsbaum & Alex Duda of Sandpipers

There is no better way to get involved in our community than working with the people who need help the most. Sandpipers is a non-profit organization that has been around in the South Bay since 1930’s and that is dedicated to serving the needs of the South Bay community through charitable and philanthropic programs. We took some time to sit down with Jennifer Buchsbaum (2015-2016 Sandpiper's President) and Alex Duda (Director of fall events) from Sandpipers and got to know a little bit more about the organization and all that they are up to this holiday season. 

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What is the story behind Sandpipers?

In 1931, in the middle of the great depression, there were 7 women in Hermosa Beach that wanted to help out their neighbors that weren’t able to put food on their tables during the holidays. So they got together “Holiday Baskets” filled with food and a centerpiece for their neighbors in need, and then dropped them off anonymously. After that they formed an organization that was dedicated to helping people in the South Bay community. The Holiday Basket program has now continued for 81 years. 

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Can you tell us a little bit more about the events you offer during this holiday season?

We have three programs this season, the Holiday Homes Tour is our big fundraiser and then we do two philanthropy programs, Sugar Plum Tree, and the Holiday Baskets. 

The Sugar Plum Tree started around 40 years ago, by a member who partnered with a local toy drive. It has continued over the years and Sandpipers has now taken it over. What we do is partner with LA county department of children and family services and we provide them with unwrapped toys that are in foster care. This year we are on track to donate between 1,500 to 2,000 toys. The public can also participate by dropping off toys at our Holiday Trunk Show (learn more here). 

Holiday Baskets as I mentioned earlier were our founding program, except now it has evolved from a simple basket with food and a centerpiece to a much more elaborate giving to the families we adopt. We adopt about 105 families and we provide the families with everything from gift cards to new shoes, clothes and toys for the kids.  

What is the Holiday Homes Tour and tell us all about it? 

It's one of our big events to raise money for our organization where we showcase beautiful homes in the South Bay and decorate them for the holidays. This year we have four wonderful homes from Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and even an incredible home from Redondo Beach this year. It is so much fun and festive that it gets you in the holiday spirit. All of the funds we raise from the Home Tour go to support all of our philanthropy programs that we do throughout the year.

Some of the homes will have a market/cafe featured inside, with food and beverages from places like Grow and Two Guns Espresso. For the bonus house in Redondo Beach, Kincaid’s and King Harbor Brewery will be featured, so there will be a slider and micro brew theme in that house. We’ve also partnered with Plaza Bank, where we will be hosting a rooftop event with tons of live entertainment and food on Sunday from 12-5 pm in Manhattan Beach. Also, some of the local designers who are involved this year are Lavish Gift+Home, Shanna Shryne Design, and Gumtree. For floral design we have Magical Bloom in Redondo Beach, Deep Roots, Lily Pad Floral, and Growing Wild

This year's homes: 

  • 774 31st Street, Manhattan Beach - "Tropics in the Trees"
  • 648 Gould Avenue, Hermosa Beach - "Bali at the Beach"
  • 640 19th Street, Manhattan Beach - "Classic Contemporary"
  • 632 South Irena Avenue, Redondo Beach - "Coastal Farm House"

The Home Tour is this Friday, Sat, Sunday, from 10 am to 5 pm. More info here

Have you ever had that "AH HA!" moment, where why you joined Sandpipers all made sense?

Alex: I was on the Chair for the Holiday Baskets in my second year and it was definitely a challenge but I think I experienced this feeling when I was standing there at the end, seeing all of the baskets and what I had accomplished. Then seeing people come in and enjoying the baskets that we made, just made it all worth while and so rewarding. 

Jennifer: There have been a lot of “Ah Ha!” moments for me. I would say that one thing always sticks out in my head is related also to the Holiday Baskets program. I remember the family that I was first assigned to - the little girl only had a hair brush on her wish list. It is something that all of us take for granted but that is the only thing she wanted. So obviously I got her way more than a hair brush, but it kind of put things into prospective for me. We live in a community that has so much and we are so lucky, so we don’t often times have the opportunity to see the struggles that other people in our neighborhoods go through. 

Jennifer, since you have become the president of Sandpipers this year, did you have a vision going into it? Have you seen any of that come to life? 

There were a lot of changes this year as far as our membership requirements go. I have felt really strongly about how the demographics of our membership has shifted over the years and we have more full-time working women. It is getting to be a majority of our membership. Back in the day, it used to be that you couldn’t have a job and become a Sandpiper. So I felt that our organization needed to shift to reflect the change in times and so we changed some things around to make it work for our members who work full time. This is our first year doing this, so we will see how it goes, but I think most people have welcomed with open arms.  We continue to evolve based off the needs of the community and listening to the needs of our members. 

For more information on Sandpipers visit here


FROM DIANA ROBERTS: 

I have been affiliated with Sandpipers now for 10 years, it was not easy but now as an associate I enjoy being a part of this organization and the South Bay community.
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Diana Recommends: 

  • Pier to Pier Brokers is hosting a Holiday Trunk Show on December 10th. Raffle proceeds will go to Sandpipers and the public can donate gifts for the Sugarplum Tree at the event as well.
  • I recommend going to the Holiday Home Tour on Saturday, that way you can see the bonus house in Redondo Beach which is supposed to be phenomenal. 
  • Don't miss the rooftop event at the Plaza Bank for an evening filled with good wine, food, and an incredible sunset.