A small toy drive insurance agency owner Samantha Tradelius started after reading “Dear Santa” letters from kids in need many years ago has turned into a full-blown community effort helping hundreds of people in three California cities.
The Sparkle Foundation, a 501(c)(3) founded by Commercial Coverage Insurance Agency owner Tradelius in 2015, has adopted 65 families of single mothers this holiday season. Each family chosen has sent Sparkle a “wish-list” of items so they can have a very special holiday.
“We will be attacking the project of helping these single mothers and their children in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento and Los Angeles,” Tradelius said.
Working with the local communities around these cities and their law enforcement, the Sparkle Holiday Gift Drive kicked off Nov. 7. Since then donations for 217 individuals have been pouring in and volunteers have worked tirelessly to sort, wrap and deliver gifts to the families. On Dec. 14, more than 300 volunteers came out to help with the wrapping and gifting of more than $70,000 in donations.
“So many community businesses, and people come together to make this happen,” Tradelius said.
Sparkle’s efforts have been assisted by her family’s companies, Strickler Insurance Agency in Tarzana Calif., and Lytespeed Learning Center, an online professional insurance education resource that offers pre-licensing and continuing education classes and programs. Others in the industry have provided help as well, including Scottish American and The Hartford.
Raised in Southern California, Tradelius has grown up in the insurance industry. She started teaching classes for LyteSpeed Learning when she was a teenager, then started her own insurance agency at the age of 24. Now, she co-owns Commercial Coverage Insurance with her husband, Paul, and runs the company’s San Rafael, Calif., location.
Inspired by her grandmother who raised three kids as a single mom in the ’50s, Tradelius started The Sparkle Foundation to help struggling single mothers. The foundation is run by a board of seven women, with Tradelius serving as executive director. In addition to the holiday gift drive, Sparkle raised enough money through events and donations in 2019 to send 75 kids to local enrichment programs and handed out 700 backpacks this school year.
Tradelius said her grandmother worked several jobs to take care of her children. “I wanted to help those moms,” she said. “Sparkle isn’t going to change the world, but it provides a little bit of hope — or sparkle — for someone who needs it.”
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