Families struggling with major illnesses have enough to deal with around the holidays, so a local group chipped in to help. The Hugs for Cubs cancer victim support group, part of the national-champion Santa Barbara Foresters baseball team, delivered Christmas trees, presents, and holiday cheer to a dozen local families. This year’s effort started with Santa Barbara High School’s Hugs Club, created in 2016 by Kelby Pintard. The club got a huge boost from Compass, a real estate agency who put the club’s fundraising efforts over the top.
“It makes us feel great to be able to help people who are going through a tough time,” said Kelby. “And this year, thanks to Compass and others, we were able to add lights and gingerbread houses to our tree deliveries.”
“Our agents and staff saw this as a great way to bring some holiday spirit to kids and families battling cancer,” said Compass broker manager John Nisbet. “Anything we can do to help them reduce some stress seems like such a great thing. After we heard about this opportunity we had half the money from our agents in ten minutes. They even want to make this an annual event.”
Hugs for Cubs started in 1995 thanks to local baseball star—and Kelby’s brother—Eric Pintard and their dad Bill. Eric had spinal cancer but wanted to help other young people facing the battle. Bill has been the manager of the Foresters since 1995. Using the Foresters corps of friendly, hard-working baseball players, Eric and Bill started Hugs for Cubs, which has become a vital part of the team. Though Eric passed away in 2004, his work continues to help dozens of families all year long.
“Having gone through what we did with Eric and seeing how much the Hugs for Cubs has helped over the years, I am just so excited to be able to keep the spirit alive, and do it with my friends from Santa Barbara High,” added Kelby. She noted that though she is graduating in 2018, she hopes the club will continue.
The Hugs for Cubs will also be visiting children in local hospitals later in December, along with Foresters players and coaches, to help make the kids’ holidays a bit more special.