OUR History

It started as an anonymous good deed

It became Angels Bearing Gifts, a small, well-regarded Santa Barbara non-profit with a mission unique among non-profits in the United States.

In 1999, Evelynn Smith and her daughter, Michelle, a person with developmental disabilities, delivered holiday gifts to nine people with developmental disabilities. Unlike Michelle, these first recipients had no families. They had no one to remember them at a time when being alone can feel most painful.

Today, more then 200 people with developmental disabilities – who have outlived their families or whose families have withdrawn from their lives – have Angels to remember them on their birthdays, Valentine’s Day, and during the December holidays.

Beneficiaries live in group homes, skilled nursing facilities, or in their own apartments with live-in or shift-care providers. They have diagnoses that range from Down Syndrome and other chromosomal and genetic disorders, through autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, fetal alcoholism spectrum disorder, or other conditions that limit their ability to function fully. Ethnic diversity is reflective of Santa Barbara County in general.

In addition to fulfilling the mission of remembering those with developmental disabilities on birthdays and holidays, Angels Bearing Gifts strives to “foster compassion within our community…via year-round volunteer and educational outreach activities.”

Angels Bearing Gifts is a popular choice for students seeking community service hours, especially during the holiday season when they can join other volunteers shopping, wrapping, and delivering gifts, or decorating gift bags.

Angels Bearing Gifts is an all-volunteer organization. Without passionate and dependable volunteers, Angels cannot fly. And without the financial support of a generous, compassionate community, Angels don’t even have wings

You can sponsor a beneficiary! You, too, can be an Angel. Email [email protected] to find out you can help the too-often forgotten members of our community feel included in the celebration of the holidays every year.

A gift is an expression of caring
A gift is a gesture of remembrance
A gift is a connection to tradition
A gift is an embrace, a smile, a sigh
And some laughs, if you’re lucky

But above all a gift says this: you’re special.