Cristal's Blog


November 15, 2022

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While the world is full of people in need year-round, at no time is that more apparent than during the holiday season when holiday giving is so important. For every smiling family curled up around a warm fireplace with a massive pile of presents under the tree, there are many others who have no fire, no gifts, and sometimes, even no family or home.

A round piece of wood with the words Happy Holidays carved into it with lights, greens and a big red bow on top
Photo by Osman Rana on Unsplash

If you're wondering, "What’s the best way to give back this year?"
I have the answer for you.

There are plenty of worthy non-profits in Santa Barbara, as well as nationally, that could use your help. And don’t forget, donations to specific charities make excellent holiday gifts, especially for those on your list who already have everything. Here is a holiday giving list of several unique ways Santa Barbara residents can give back throughout the holiday season:

The words Celebrate Philanthropy in front of a beautiful yellow sky with trees and lush green bushes behind and the Santa Barbara Foundation logo on top

According to the SBF website, “The Santa Barbara Foundation connects people and their passions to improve the quality of life in Santa Barbara County.” As such, this community foundation has been creating meaningful change for the region since 1928. They do this by offering inclusive collaboration, philanthropic advising, and strategic grantmaking designed to strengthen our regional nonprofits.

What They Do: SBF brings people and resources together to make large-scale, sustainable improvements across Santa Barbara County. Change comes from the organization facilitating dialogue with local business leaders, government representatives, leaders of nonprofit organizations, residents, and funders. Basically, anyone and everyone who wants to create a positive change can do so by donating.

What They Need: SBF needs monetary donations to continue to support local non-profits such as the Santa Barbara County Food Action Network, Community Caregiving Initiative, and the Santa Barbara County Veterans Collaborative.

Anyone interested in architecture will want to support this 1920’s house and museum. The George Washington Smith Casa, one of America's finest examples of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, is included on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition, it maintains National Historic Landmark status partly due to its eclectic mix of Moorish-inspired gardens.

What They Do: When visitors come to Casa del Herrero, they are transported back to Montecito as it was in the 1920s and 1930s. The non-profit organization is dedicated to preserving this 11-acre estate and grounds, as well as the Steedman family's collection of the fifteenth and sixteenth-century fine and decorative art objects from the "Golden Age" of Spain in the form of books, sketchbooks, drawings, and horticultural records.

What They Need: Financial support for the organization furthers its mission of preserving the historic estate. These donations assist in completing conservation projects and maintaining the garden spaces. Additionally, the Casa is looking for docents and garden volunteers.

Santa Barbara City College logo over a photo of the green campus and the ocean in the background

The SBCC Foundation has been supporting the Santa Barbara City College through private philanthropic support since 1976; investing in the college and its students.

What They Do: The SBCC Foundation provides Santa Barbara City College with private philanthropic support, awarding over $5 million annually for student success programs, scholarships, book grants, emergency funds, and other needs of the college and its students--including the SBCC Promise, which provides all recent local high school graduates the opportunity to attend SBCC full-time for two years at no cost.

What They Need: Donations of financial support for our community's college and its students.

In the aftermath of the Thomas fire and mudslides that followed, this organization was formed to thank first responders and show them how much their efforts were appreciated.

What They Do: One805 supports first responders by funding emergency equipment and services. This is the perfect way to support our local fire, police, and sheriff’s department through your holiday giving by helping to purchase the much-needed high-tech and safety equipment that is out of budget, as well as vital counseling services.

What They Need: Santa Barbara individuals and businesses are invited to become a member at one805 and be an ongoing part of the first responders community. Financial assistance helps fund essential equipment and resources.

Two Australian shepherds in Christmas tree hats sitting in the snow surrounded by Christmas trees
Image Courtesy of Pam Marks, Pawprincestudios

Anyone who knows me is aware of my love of animals. That’s why I appreciate the work of C.A.R.E.4Paws, an organization dedicated to reducing pet overpopulation, keeping animals out of shelters, and improving the quality of life for pets and pet owners in need in Santa Barbara County.

What They Do: This jewel of non-profits in Santa Barbara the County’s most underserved communities, promoting animal welfare and assisting low-income, senior, disabled, and homeless pet owners with a range of critical pet wellness services. This includes free spays/neuters, low-cost vaccine clinics, affordable veterinary care, and pet food delivery. There is also a youth program that inspires compassion for animals and a bilingual community outreach that creates awareness around critical pet care and resources available to families in need.

What They Need: This organization is raising funds to assist more low-income, senior, and homeless community members than ever before. Your holiday giving donation will help keep animals happy, healthy, and with their families for life.

Right now, around 85 million people worldwide have been displaced by natural disasters and conflict, something Santa Barbara residents can relate to after the disastrous Thomas fire and the following mudflow. ShelterBox is working to change this.

What They Do: ShelterBox is dedicated to ensuring that "no family is left without shelter after disaster strikes." ShelterBox assists in the immediate response and recovery phase by providing families with customized emergency shelter, tools, and essential items to help them rebuild their lives.

What They Need: Donations to ShelterBox can transform the lives of families who have survived a natural disaster or conflict. Your monetary donation will help the organization provide emergency shelter and tools for displaced families.

The front of the Santa Barbara Santa Rescue Mission building with its red tiled roof, palm trees and blue sky

The Santa Barbara Rescue Mission offers "physical, emotional, educational, and spiritual resources to all who struggle with homelessness and addiction."

What They Do: Since 1965, this local non-profit has provided immediate help in the form of food and shelter 365 nights a year to those with no place else to go. Toward this goal, SBRM offers a 12-month residential recovery program for men and women desiring to break free from cycles of addiction, poverty, homelessness, and crime.

What They Need: Financial support will help provide security that is deeper than any the world can offer as homelessness rises.

Of course, there are many other non-profits in Santa Barbara and elsewhere worthy of our holiday giving. In fact, all of these wonderful organizations point to the value Santa Barbara and Montecito residents – so privileged in many ways – place on helping the less fortunate among us.

If you are blessed with the good fortune of buying a new home, or selling your existing home in order to move within the Santa Barbara area, it’s imperative to have an experienced Realtor on your team. Call me at (805) 886-9378 or email me at, and I'll happily add your home to my portfolio of fine properties while I find you the perfect residence. I can handle the entire process, leaving you time to enjoy the season and concentrate on your holiday giving.

More resources:

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Client Reviews

“Cristal is a pleasure to work with! Her knowledge of the local real estate market coupled with her amazing listening skills resulted in her showing us an array of homes that were all excellent choices. Her low-pressure patient attitude made us feel extremely comfortable with the whole process. I cannot recommend her highly enough.”

- M.F.

“Cristal Clarke is #1 in her field - and you don't become #1 by luck. Cristal works harder, and longer, and with more charm and patience than any real estate agent I have ever worked with in the past; her calendar has no weekend, her days have no clocks, her only concern is selling your property as soon as possible and for the best price on the market. Am I a fan? You bet!”

- P.B.

“We have used Cristal now several times and cannot express how grateful we are for her expertise, dedication, and unwavering support throughout the entire home-buying process. Cristal is knowledgeable, patient and attentive. Her attention to detail is remarkable, and she consistently went above and beyond to provide us with all the information and resources we needed to make informed decisions. Cristal is a skillful negotiator and advocate. She can navigate complex negotiations with professionalism and grace and felt like a true partner to us in the home-buying process. Cristal has a genuine passion for real estate and a deep commitment to her clients' satisfaction. I cannot speak highly enough of Cristal and her exceptional service. She is a true expert in her field and her dedication to excellence, combined with unwavering support is the reason we choose to work with her for all our real estate buying needs.”

- T.C.

“Cristal is a top-notch realtor who sold my home before it ever went on the market. I had two competing offers that enabled me to get top dollar for my home. Not only is Cristal superb but her team is extraordinary. I cannot say enough about Cristal and her team. They are simply phenomenal, the consummate professionals, who took care of every possible detail, making the sale and transition period, smooth from our end. They are also lovely, caring people, who knew all the right professionals, to get the job done. Thank you, everyone!”

- D.R.

“I could list lots of cool adjectives to describe Cristal. All good by the way. But, that is not why I or anyone should hire Cristal. My reason for hiring her, which proved to be correct, is very simple. She got the job done. And, she does it time and time again and with zero issues. And, that is why she is one of the top agents in the country. End of subject. ”

- M.A.

“Working with Cristal was a complete pleasure. Cristal was extremely patient with us as we evaluated nearly 2 dozen homes over a span of 2 years. Her knowledge of the market is unmatched. Cristal provided us with exceptional counsel as we evaluated opportunities and negotiated pricing. The closing process was handled thoroughly and efficiently. We could not be happier with our purchase and even more happy to now call Cristal our friend.”

- D.K.

“Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”

- S.N. Decker Ph.D.

“Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”

- Johan and Paula van den Berg

“Cristal is very straightforward, cheerful, helpful, professional and trustworthy….we felt very lucky to work with her.”

- John and Lacey Williams

“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

- Michael & Nancy Lee

“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

- Richard and Catherine Frinier

“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

- Laurie Siegel

“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

- Ken Saffir

“Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

- Michael & Susan Marquart

“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

- Rob & Judi Kelch