Caroline's giveaway
Caroline's Nonprofit Thrift Shop gave away $500,000 to local nonprofits on Sunday in Watsonville. — submitted photo

WATSONVILLE—Caroline’s Nonprofit Thrift Shop donated $500,000 to local community-serving organizations on Sunday in a ceremony at Martinelli’s Company Store on Harvest Drive.

Some 130 people flocked to Watsonville for the annual giveaway, which Caroline’s founder and director Christy Licker calls the organization’s “best day of the year.”

“I’m really proud to work with the group I work with. We really feel honored to work with these nonprofits,” she said. “It’s really nice to take some of the fundraising pressure away from the nonprofits so that they can focus on providing services and helping people that need to help.”

The relaxed barbecue gathering under clear sunny skies marked the return of the annual in-person day of giving. Last year, Caroline’s quietly distributed $300,000 while the Covid-19 pandemic raged.

In 2020, Caroline’s gave away a record $710,000 to 24 nonprofits. A bulk of those funds, Licker says, came thanks to the sale of the store’s former location at 402 Trout Gulch Road—the shop is now at 8047 Soquel Drive.

Licker says she considers this year’s mark the new annual record the nonprofit will shoot to break come 2023.

“Half a million dollars is a big deal for us,” she said.

Hospice of Santa Cruz, Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Support Services and Coastal Kids Home Care were all awarded $35,000, while other nonprofits such as Community Bridges ($25,000), Monarch Services ($30,000) and Pajaro Valley Shelter Services ($20,000) were also handed funds. 

The funds, Licker says, are needed now more than ever.

“It’s been a brutal few years for a lot of these nonprofits, in particular, for those that deal with mental health issues, children and where there’s abuse in households,” she said. “They’ve all been impacted, but those nonprofits that serve those areas have seen an increase during the pandemic.”

Opened in 2010, Caroline’s was founded in memory of Licker’s daughter, Caroline, who died at 16 after receiving support from four nonprofit agencies dedicated to supporting children and their families.

As the pandemic restrictions have begun to lift once again, Licker says Caroline’s hopes to add more volunteers who can work the shop. Currently, they have roughly 60 people who volunteer throughout the year, down from the 90 that were with the organization before the pandemic hit in spring 2020.

For information, visit Caroline’s Facebook page.

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Tony Nuñez is a longtime member of the Watsonville community who served as Sports Editor of The Pajaronian for five years and three years as Managing Editor. He is a Watsonville High, Cabrillo College and San Jose State University alumnus.


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