There is a rugged, forlorn island located nearly 200-miles south of the border, Isla Guadalupe, that is only 6-miles wide and 22-miles long where maybe 300 government employees, fishermen and their families call home. At present, 40 of those inhabitants in one village are children.
One of the more frequent visitors to Isla Guadalupe are sportfishing boats in search of yellowfin tuna and yellowtail, along with the many other sportfish found there in the surrounding waters.
The legendary Captain Frank Lo Preste, one of the patriarchs of the Long Range Sportfishing industry who operates out of the San Diego landing, the owner of the“Shogun”, along with his wife, Kathy Rounds Lo Preste, were on a recent visit to the island when one of the local residents visited their boat while they were on anchor in the small bay.
With him was a handful of children who were along for the boat ride. Kathy and the crew offered them candy and soft drinks and before they left, they offered their gratitude with hugs and handshakes all around.
By the time the islanders had returned the following day, Kathy had devised a plan to arrange a delivery from Santa to the Island’s children ages 2 to 14.
After another successful fishing trip was recorded and they were headed for San Diego, her time traveling uphill was consumed with figuring out the logistics involved in such an ambitious undertaking.
Even the list of names of the children became a daunting exercise as she scoured the Internet to determine the sex of each child from the first and sometimes middle names she had been given. In some cases, it became an educated guess determined by the percentages of the lists created online.
Soon after her return to San Diego, she contacted Ken Franke, President of Sportfishing Association of California, (SAC) representing most of California’s Sportfishing and Long-Range fleets.
He eagerly agreed that SAC would support the project financially and he would encourage volunteers and other resources to ensure its success as well.
A lot of thought went into Kathy’s efforts as she chose presents for the children on the island. Plastic blocks, balls, teddy bears, and even clothing for the very young, children up to 10 years old received brain gifts and games that would make them think along with coloring books, crayons, sewing and craft kits, while older kids up to 14 received sports equipment baseball equipment for boys … mitts, batting vests, balls, bats, and for the village … bases for the diamond; and for the older girls each a volley ball, with a net for the village. The sacks had many gifts in addition to their larger gifts for each to unwrap.
These plans culminated in a work party on Saturday, December 9, where SAC Volunteers wrapped the many Christmas gifts and placed them into plastic bags with each child’s name both on the outside as well as on the inside.
“The SAC organization and it membership are always delighted to support outreach efforts such as this one,” Franke confided.