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My Holiday Fairy: La Jolla teen starts nonprofit to deliver holiday gifts to homeless children

La Jolla High School juniors Kate Wharton and Annika Inamdar assemble "twinkle totes" as holiday gifts for homeless children.
La Jolla High School juniors Kate Wharton (left) and Annika Inamdar assemble “twinkle totes” as holiday gifts for homeless children.
(Provided by Kate Wharton)

Kate Wharton and four other La Jolla High School students help the San Diego Rescue Mission.

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Halting shortfalls of holiday gifts for dozens of local homeless children, a La Jolla teenager has started a nonprofit called My Holiday Fairy to “do whatever we can … for kids in need.”

Kate Wharton, a La Jolla High School junior, said she formed the 501(c)(3) organization late last year to brighten the holidays for children “who usually aren’t fortunate to receive gifts.”

My Holiday Fairy raised more than $2,500 in November and December and donated gifts to children at the San Diego Rescue Mission, which provides shelter, clothing, food, education and other services to homeless people.

My Holiday Fairy also is run by Abbi Archibald, Paige Hench, Annika Inamdar and Sydney Vaknin, all La Jolla High juniors and Kate’s best friends.

In December, the group made 50 “twinkle totes” — bags with gifts for each child in the Rescue Mission’s residential program. The kids requested the gifts via individual wish lists.

My Holiday Fairy made more bags for those in the Rescue Mission’s emergency shelter, including generic presents such as fuzzy socks, hand sanitizer, toiletries and candy, Kate said.

“I’m just so happy that ... I’m actually making a difference.”

— Kate Wharton, founder of My Holiday Fairy

My Holiday Fairy is run by LJHS juniors Abbi Archibald, Paige Hench, Annika Inamdar, Sydney Vaknin and Kate Wharton.
My Holiday Fairy is run by La Jolla High School juniors Abbi Archibald, Sydney Vaknin, Annika Inamdar, Kate Wharton and Paige Hench.
(Provided by Kate Wharton)

Delivering the totes and other donations was “eye-opening,” Annika said. Seeing smiles on the kids’ faces made her realize the positive impact she was making.

Kate said she was astounded to read the children’s wish lists, which asked for “so little compared to us.”

“It really humbled me,” Kate said, and altered her view of her own holiday wish list.

The girls raised donations by asking friends, family members, sports coaches and others for help.

They also set up a booth at the La Jolla Open Aire Market and the BirdStock festival in Bird Rock to raise funds.

Kate said she is grateful to the dozens of people who donated, especially those she doesn’t know personally.

She was moved to help homeless children after moving to La Jolla about six years ago from a small town near Dallas that didn’t have a homeless population, she said.

Upon arriving in San Diego, she couldn’t stop thinking about the homeless people she saw here.

Now older and able to volunteer, start an organization and run a bank account, Kate said she’s had the idea to help homeless youths in San Diego for a while and made “this more than just a thought” with her friends’ encouragement.

“I’m just so happy that ... I’m actually making a difference,” she said.

Annika said she was eager to help Kate “because it seems like a great thing.”

Kate said she chose to help the San Diego Rescue Mission because she felt connected to its cause, specifically its efforts to provide education.

“I just think that’s incredible,” she said.

Annika, who has grown up in San Diego, said it hurts to see the divide between those who have homes and those who do not.

“Once we went to the Rescue Mission, [we realized] the amount of work being put in to help these people is immense,” she said. “It felt even better when we came and [brought] holiday cheer to them.”

My Holiday Fairy will continue its work, assembling twinkle totes for kids at the Rescue Mission for Valentine’s Day, Easter and Halloween, Kate said.

She said her efforts have taught her that “even if you’re young, you can make a difference.”

Annika agreed: “There’s no age limit to making a positive impact.”

To donate or learn more, visit myholidayfairy.org.