Working with Junior Achievement to Provide Financial Education for Local Youth

Junior Achievement (JA), an organization committed to teaching students from kindergarten through high school about financial topics, has come to hold a special place in our hearts. Recently, Amber Santos and Tom Schmidt from our La Jolla office, as well as Darla Clark from our downtown San Diego office, visited JA’s BizTown (the only BizTown facility in California!) to help San Diego elementary school students operate banks, manage restaurants, write checks and vote for mayor.

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The goal of the program is to help kids connect the concept of dealing with the financial responsibilities of adulthood to the reality. Rene Wisch and Lisa Johns from our Vancouver, Washington office also volunteered with BizTown through Junior Achievement of Washington. Khellie Van and Devin Jackson have volunteered through Junior Achievement’s classroom programs in Washington.

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Junior Achievement offers dozens of different kinds of programs and many ways to volunteer. Kim Poole and Bill Scheffel from our Escondido office presented about the finances of cities to third grade students at Joli Ann Leichtag Elementary School in Vista, for example. They covered topics like taxes, revenue, banking, small businesses, municipalities and how all of these parts work together. Their coworkers, Cindy Thomas, Erin Brosch and Taryn Diehl (as well as Bill Scheffel) also volunteered in a classroom at Willow Grove Elementary in Poway.

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The JA programs focus primarily on work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy. Most schools don’t dedicate much or any curriculum time to these topics. Since students at low-income schools may have even less opportunity for financial education, Junior Achievement focuses primarily on these schools, though not exclusively.

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Amber, who worked with fifth graders at BizTown said, “They worked hard, and their excitement was contagious.” She hopes to volunteer again.

For BizTown, the fifth graders have had in-class sessions with volunteers before they attend so that they’re prepared. “Prior to the day, they get some education from Junior Achievement presentations from kindergarten on,” says Tom. “BizTown is the reward for all that instruction.” The students and the volunteers also receive instruction booklets when they arrive at BizTown.

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Tom, who has volunteered with Junior Achievement for many years and in several capacities, including instructing the personal finance curriculum to high schoolers through Junior Achievement’s in-class program, says he continues to enjoy giving back to the kids. “It’s a win-win. I like working with kids, and it amazes me what some kids know and do. Some get so involved during BizTown that they don’t even want to go on break.”

Amber concurred, adding, “They were really responsible and took the experience very seriously.”

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Darla helped run the San Diego Union Tribune shop at BizTown with students from San Diego’s Jamacha neighborhood. Four of the kids published a newspaper, which included photos, an editorial article, an interview with the Mayor and articles about two of the businesses in Biz Town.

“It was a very busy and fun experience,” said Darla, who was impressed by the kids in her shop, saying they “were smart and did the work.”

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It’s easy to be a Junior Achievement volunteer. “Junior Achievement gives you all the materials in a packet, as well as all the lessons and video tutorials for classroom sessions,” said, Kim. “They walk you through it completely.”

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Kim was hooked after her first classroom experience volunteering for Junior Achievement. “I realized I have all the tools available to help teach these kids. They need to go out in the world with the financial strength to make the decisions they need to make and to understand them.” In addition to that, she says, “And it’s so much fun!”

“I was nervous!” Lisa readily admits feeling before her classroom teaching assignment through Junior Achievement. But, she says, “JA really prepares you for the classes. They have great training materials and it only takes about 20 minutes to read through them.”  Lisa taught a third grade class about city planning. The class met for 45 minutes once a week for five weeks.

One night, after the program had ended, Lisa experienced something that confirmed the impact volunteering can have. She was at a restaurant with her family when she passed by a table where two young girls were having dinner with their mother. One of the girls looked up at Lisa, smiled and said, “Hi!” Lisa immediately recognized her as one of her students from her JA class.

Lisa stopped to talk to her. Her mother asked who she was, and the young girl eagerly answered, “She is the Junior Achievement teacher!” Lisa felt so good that the student remembered her. “This made me realize how important volunteering is, and how much of an impact you can have in a child’s life.”

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To volunteer with Junior Achievement, contact your local chapter.screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am

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We’re celebrating 15 consecutive 5-Star ratings from BauerFinancial

march bauerIndependent rating and research firm BauerFinancialscreen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am has released its March 2017 bank ratings, giving Grandpoint Bank and its divisions, Regents Bank, Bank of Tucson and The Biltmore Bank of Arizona, a fifteenth consecutive quarterly 5-Star rating for strength, stability and soundness.

Based on December 31, 2016 financial data filed with the government, only banks BauerFinancial considers to be the strongest in the nation earn the 5-Star rating. Four- and five-star banks appear on BauerFinancial’s Recommended Report.

BauerFinancial has rated banks since 1983 and is regarded as “the nation’s bank rating service.” Banks cannot pay to be rated nor opt out of being rated.

Criteria for earning the 5-Star rating include the strength of the institution’s capital ratios, profitability/loss trends, the level of delinquent loans and repossessed assets, the market versus book value of the investment portfolio, regulatory supervisory agreements, the community reinvestment rating (CRA) and liquidity.

Thank you to all our wonderful clients for your business and your trust. We’re a 5-Star bank because we work with 5-Star clients.

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Hanaa Zahran: An Influential Woman

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Congratulations to Hanaa Zahran, Senior Vice President in our La Jolla office, for being chosen as one of The Daily Transcript’s 2017 Influential Women in San Diego!

One quality that distinguishes Hanaa is her determination. Born in Egypt, she took on many challenges and learned to thrive in the U.S. Today, she is an important role model for women in finance, immigrants to our country and those motivated to contribute to the civic vitality of our community.

Hanaa serves on the annual conference committee for the Treasury Management Association of San Diego, she’s an active member of Business Executives Council, a member of the Risk Management Association and is heavily involved with Athena San Diego, the premier professional organization for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Hanaa also served as a board member at La Jolla Playhouse for nearly 10 years and participated on their finance, investment and audit committees.

Hanaa has joined both the steering committee and corporate involvement committee for a new STEM program the San Diego Fleet Science Center is launching for children interested in STEM disciplines. Fleet Science Center’s STEM Ecosystem Initiative is a program that brings executives in education, science and business sectors together to give students greater access to opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math.

With a strong understanding and affinity for STEM disciplines, Hanaa has forged relationships with industry sectors new to our bank, including biotech and medical device firms. Her consultative banking approach has resonated with companies within these industries, as life science and technology firms are often led by researchers, scientists and engineers who rely on strong service providers to help them round out their business skills and strategies. It doesn’t hurt, either, that Hanaa speaks English, Spanish, French, Russian and Arabic, her native language.

Most importantly, Hanaa has also raised a remarkable son, who is now attending a global immersion college program at NYU Shanghai. Way to go, Hanaa.

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Roger M. Laverty Named President of Grandpoint Bank

grandpoint_rocky_laverty_993_cropPlease join us in welcoming the new president of Grandpoint Bank, (of which Regents Bank is a division) Roger M. “Rocky” Laverty. Rocky, a member of the Bank’s board of directors since its inception in 2010, has a distinguished business career, most recently serving as President and Chief Executive Officer of Farmer Bros. Co. He is also the former President and CEO of Smart & Final, Inc. and Diedrich Coffee, Inc., and he was a founding member and Chairman and CEO of Prime Advantage, Inc.

“Rocky is a remarkable businessman, and we are fortunate to have his leadership in guiding our bank’s growth across all of our markets,” says Don M. Griffith, Chairman and CEO of Grandpoint Capital, Inc., and Grandpoint Bank. “I’ve known Rocky for years, and his business acumen, his ability to identify and cultivate strategic growth opportunities and his track record of building successful businesses will be a tremendous benefit to Grandpoint.”

Rocky will remain on the bank’s board of directors.

“I’ve had the opportunity to be part of the bank’s growth as a member of the board,” says Rocky. “It is now exciting to be on the frontlines, working with an exceptionally talented group of regional executives and their teams. I’m looking forward to contributing the experience I’ve garnered over the course of my career to support the bank’s internal growth and develop new product strategies.”

Rocky is a member of the Board of Trustees for Children’s Bureauscreen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am and for the Jean Perkins Scholarship Foundation,screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am which provides college scholarships to children of LA County Sheriff Deputies. He also serves on the board of the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation,screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am which provides ocean therapy to wounded warriors and veterans as well as at-risk youth.

Rocky attended Stanford University and Stanford Law School.

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Grandpoint Bank Promotes Karen McGuire to Executive Vice President

karenCongratulations to Karen McGuire, manager of Grandpoint Bank’s Construction Lending Department, who just earned a well-deserved promotion to Executive Vice President.

Karen is responsible for helping Grandpoint Bank and our divisions, Regents Bank,  Bank of Tucson and The Biltmore Bank of Arizona, expand our construction lending loan portfolio. She is based at Grandpoint’s Irvine office and oversees a seasoned and talented construction lending staff. Her duties include analyzing and underwriting all of the bank’s construction loan requests. This includes evaluating both standard and complex construction loan transactions, interfacing with clients, handling the construction loan disbursements once a loan is approved and visiting project sites.

According to Karen, currently, the demand for construction lending for multifamily properties is especially strong throughout the nation. In the markets that Grandpoint Bank and our divisions serve, Karen says the strongest demand is coming from Los Angeles and the Portland, Oregon/ Vancouver, Washington market. Karen’s team is also currently seeing a lot of lending activity and demand from the hospitality and single family real estate sectors in many of the bank’s existing markets.

Karen’s best advice for would-be loan applicants? If you’re looking for construction financing, start the loan application process sooner rather than later.  Assuming your loan application is complete, the approval process can be as short as 60 days, but compiling a complete loan application can take longer than many people anticipate due to the additional amounts of information and analysis required.

Your local relationship manager, along with Karen and her staff, will work with you to help you understand what is needed and what to include in your application. You’ll also benefit from the incredible depth of experience our loan underwriters have and can contribute to your construction project and process. You can depend on our team to bring a sophisticated understanding to your objectives and the business of construction.

“My team and I don’t consider our work done once a loan is approved,” says Karen. “Someone from our construction lending team will go to the building site once every two to three months so that we continue to understand not only the project but also our clients’ needs and achievements.”

Karen counts the AC Hotel Tucson by Marriott (currently under construction) as one of her most notable construction loans to date. Though it was a complex project, involving two different loans and some required environmental remediation, the loan was ultimately closed based in large part on the entire team’s “can-do” attitude. The 136-room hotel with 5,000-square-feet of ground floor retail will soon give new life to the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Broadway in downtown Tucson.

“We are very fortunate to have Karen and her staff, all of whom have considerable previous experience in complex structured financing,” said Mark Phillips, Executive Vice President & Chief Credit Officer of Grandpoint Capital. “When Karen started with us, we had one construction loan on the books. Now we’re making construction loans in three states, with loans amounts up to $40 million and greater.”

For more information about construction loans, please contact your local banking office, your relationship manager or Karen McGuire at 949-483-8388.

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An Entertaining Group of Ukulele Players and a Patron of the Arts

In La Jolla, we celebrated the holiday season and our 15th anniversary by teaming up with our client La Jolla Music Societyscreen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am to host a client appreciation reception followed by a holiday performance at the MCASD Sherwood Auditorium. We enjoyed wonderful Greek food by Eclat Cateringscreen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am and wine before walking over to the museum across the street to enjoy the unique and amazing music of The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain,screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am as they performed their “Holiday Show.”

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The evening also featured a special appearance by Kristin Lancino (third from left), president and artistic director of La Jolla Music Society and festive caroling by Full Measure. Third from right: Regent Bank’s Hanaa Zahran.

As La Jolla Music Society described The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, they have “entertained British Royalty, jammed with George Harrison, performed with Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) and rocked out at Glastonbury Festival…their hilarious, entertaining dash through all genres of music has led to sold out shows all over the world from the Royal Albert Hall to Sydney Opera House via Carnegie Hall.”

Our guests have since shared with us:

What a unique and memorable performing group!  I think I smiled nonstop through the entire concert!”   

“The concert was outstanding! Thank you for including us!”

“Great memory!!!!!”

“We had a fabulous time. I could not stop smiling and I am still enjoying the ukulele.”

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We’d also like to acknowledge our wonderful relationship manager and senior vice president, Hanaa Zahran, who established our relationship with La Jolla Music Society. Hanaa was recently featured as one of San Diego Business Journal’s finalists for Women Who Mean Business this past year, partly because she is tremendously involved with arts and education outreach programs.

Hanaa has joined both the steering committee and corporate involvement committee for a new science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program the San Diego Fleet Science Center is launching for children interested in STEM disciplines. The committees are supporting the Science Center’s endeavor to unite STEM programs throughout the city. The organization will act as a clearing house for corporations, parents and kids that want to be involved with or learn about K-12 STEM programs. Hanaa believes that San Diego’s kids can and should have access to the best STEM training and resources, and she is committed to making it happen.

Hanaa also served as a board member at La Jolla Playhouse for 10 years, only just recently leaving her role on the board. She also served on the theater’s finance, investment and audit committees. Of particular significance was her contribution on the Playhouse’s finance committee, which she chaired for four years. During that time, she developed the idea to create a royalty reserve account as a way to build up reserves from show royalties.

She is also involved with Water for Africa and Lifeline. She has boosted the fundraising activity of both organizations and spent nearly five years on the gala committee for Water for Africa. The organization has played a pivotal role in the development of sustainable water projects in over 120 villages in Africa. These organizations are especially important to Hanaa because she originally hails from Egypt.

Hanaa is thrilled to partner with the La Jolla Music Society. And as everyone who attended our client appreciation reception knows, this is an organization very deserving of San Diego’s pride and admiration. Cheers to a wonderful 2017 and our next 15 years!

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Regents Bank’s Darla Clark with carolers

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Jim & Colleen Coffman with Darla Clark

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(l to r) Rachel Maurais & Stephen Friedman, Ash & Lata Israni, Luis & Sally Maizel

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(l to r) Randy & Jennifer Minnier, Kim Poole, Michelle & Brian Hudak

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(l to r) Richard Leung, Hanaa Zahran, Isaac & Loraine Levy

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(l to r) Tamara Lafarga, Roger Joseph, Steve & Lori Sefton

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Finishing the Year with Charity Drives

Thank you to everyone who contributed to our Salvation Army Angel Tree drive at our San Diego County offices and the Clark County Food Bank drive at our Vancouver, Washington office. The food drive collected 170 pounds of food, and the photos below of our Salvation Army Angel Tree drive speak for themselves. Remarkably, one of our clients contributed $2,000 through our Escondido office to the Angel Tree drive. We are truly grateful to every person who opened their hearts and their wallets to assist those in our community who needed a helping hand this holiday season.

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Regents Bank Escondido office (l to r): Taryn Diehl, Mark Fisher, Loretta Warner, Bill Scheffel, Mark Anderson, Alice Tiongco, Melissa Scanlon, David Ekings

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Regents Bank Vista office

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Regents Bank San Diego office

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Regents Bank La Jolla office

Our staff also spent time ringing the bell for Salvation Army Red Kettle drives throughout San Diego County and Vancouver, WA

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Regents Bank President Steve Sefton was bell ringing at the Ralph’s in La Jolla

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Jesse Murphy-Hill ringing the red kettle bell in Vancouver

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From left to right, Melissa and Kelsey Scanlon, Brenya Tiongco, Taryn and her daughters Layla and Trinity working the red kettle in Escondido

Finally, we’re always proud to support Friends of Downtown, and our Senior Vice President Ben Price recently attended their annual Scholarship Luncheon to help present scholarship money the organization raised for San Diego City College students.

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2016 San Diego City College Scholarship Recipients and Friends of Downtown Presenters. Ben Price (far right corner)

For more photos of the Friends of Downtown Luncheon at City College: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sandiegocitycollege/albums/72157675230311941

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Refinance Your Conventional Business Loan into a SBA 504 Loan

leticia-scearce_biltmore-bankThe SBA Debt Refinance Program is back! Does your small business have a maturing or high-cost conventional loan for real estate, buildings or equipment? The long-term, fixed rate financing available through the SBA Debt Refinance Program can help small businesses that face significant balloon payments, require financial flexibility or want to take cash out from appreciating assets for expansion.

Under the new program, small businesses that refinance into a SBA 504 loan can take advantage of lower rates, fixed for 20 years, to lighten their monthly debt payments, improve cash flow and stabilize operations.

These parameters can help determine whether this program might be a good fit for your business:

  • The debt to be refinanced must be at least two years old.
  • The debt to be refinanced must be current during the last 12 months.
  • Eligible small businesses can obtain up to 90 percent financing for secured debt and qualified business debt.
  • Eligible fixed assets include real estate and equipment.
  • Cash out for operating expenses, including debt consolidation, is limited to 75 percent loan-to-value.
  • Cash out can be used for eligible business expenses (salaries, rent, utilities, inventory).
  • Existing government guaranteed loans are not eligible to be refinanced.
  • The eligible debt being refinanced is for the outstanding principal balance.

Other conditions or qualification requirements may apply. 

For those considering applying for a new loan, we offer a variety of government guaranteed loan products that require less cash investment up front and offer longer loan terms, which can help bridge the gap for businesses that otherwise would not have access to capital.

  • SBA 7(a), 504 and 504 refinance
  • SBA Export Express Export Working Capital International Trade
  • USDA Business & Industry Loans Food Desert Rural Energy for America Program (REAP)
  • Export Import Bank of U.S.

If you would like more information on the SBA 504 Refinance Program or any of our government-guaranteed loan products, please contact Leticia Scearce, Senior Vice President/Government Guaranteed Lending Manager, at lscearce@biltmorebankaz.com or (602) 445-6511.

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Happy 2017!

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This New Year, thank the ancient Babylonians. The idea of observing a special day as the New Year was theirs, as many as 4,000 years ago, and it is considered the oldest of all holidays. Observing the New Year on January 1 is somewhat arbitrary, but the Roman senate first declared this date as the New Year in 153 BC.

The Babylonians were also the first to come up with the idea of New Year’s resolutions. These days, cultures throughout the world have their own New Year’s traditions (and observance dates). While watching the 1,200-pound Waterford Crystal ball drop in New York City is a common tradition in the U.S., the Spanish eat 12 grapes at midnight to encourage 12 happy months in the coming year.

In Britain, when the clock strikes midnight, everyone sings the Scottish song ‘Auld Lang Syne,” which means ‘times gone by’ and was written by Robert Burns in the 1700s. In Italy, people wear red underwear on New Year’s Day to bring good luck.

In Colombia, Cuba and Puerto Rico, families may stuff a large doll, called Mr. Old Year, with memories and clothes from the past year. At midnight, they light him on fire to burn away the bad memories. (May we suggest checking local regulations before you burn an effigy in your yard?)

The Japanese hold Bonenkai or “forget-the-year parties” throughout December to bid farewell to the problems and concerns of the past year and prepare for a new beginning.

Some parts of the Middle East and Asia celebrate Nowruz (or New Day), albeit in spring. Celebrations often include bonfires and egg dying.

If you find yourself celebrating the New Year by using noisemakers and setting off fireworks (again, check the regulations, folks) to celebrate the New Year, you have that in common with people in ancient times, who believed that loud noises would scare off evil spirits and bring good luck.

No matter how you celebrate the New Year, all of us at Regents Bank wish you peace, prosperity and happiness for 2017.

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Two ways to help those in need this holiday season

christmas-cove-display-la-jollaFor many, the holidays evoke magical memories of childhood they’ve cherished throughout their lives. As we celebrate the time of year when we have so many opportunities to provide for those less fortunate, we hope you’ll consider brightening a child’s Christmas morning by helping with our Salvation Armyscreen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am Angel Giving Tree gift drives.

In the spirit of the holidays, Regents Bank’s San Diego offices are welcoming our staff, clients and friends to contribute now through Friday, December 16 at our offices in downtown, La Jolla, Vista and Escondido.

At our Escondido and Vista offices, you’ll find Angel Trees with gift tags for specific requested gifts. The requests come from hundreds of San Diego children, ages infant to 12 years old, who would otherwise have no gifts to open this holiday season. Families in need that sign up for the program must meet Federal minimum poverty guidelines to qualify.

Each angel on our trees has the name, age, gender and gift request of a child in need. You can “adopt” a child and purchase their (unwrapped) Christmas gift wish to deposit in the barrel we have displayed onsite.

Our La Jolla and Downtown offices are hosting similar gift drives based on a list of suggested items from the Salvation Army.  The general drives help the Salvation Army complete family packages for the holidays. Gifts for “tweens” are most needed since they are the ones who are chosen the least from the Angel Trees.  Again, please do not wrap the gift.

According to the Salvation Army, gifts that interest boys in the tween age group are: Legos, remote controlled toys, athletic balls (soccer balls, footballs, baseballs, basketballs), skateboards, building sets, clothes, watches and electronic items.  Tween girls appreciate: hair tools, hair accessories, nail supplies, make-up, jewelry, art sets, journals, CDs, DVDs, toiletry sets (body wash, lotions, body mists, etc.), scooters, Polaroid cameras (instant cameras) and stationery sets.  Of course, any items for all ages will be gratefully accepted and appreciated.

Please feel free to contact your Regents banker or the main telephone line at any of our San Diego-area  offices if you have any questions about our Salvation Army gift drive.

If your philanthropic heart leans toward higher education, we invite you to help us invest in educating tomorrow’s leaders. Throughout the year, we support Friends of Downtown,screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am a non-profit 501 (c)(3) with a membership comprised of individuals who work or live in downtown San Diego. Its goal is sharing information and ideas to enhance the community.

In 2000, Friends of Downtown began awarding scholarships to students at San Diego City College, one of the hidden jewels of downtown, which serves more than 16,000 students on its 60-acre campus. Since then, Friends of Downtown has awarded over $425,000 in scholarships, becoming the largest SDCC scholarship provider. Students who apply are evaluated on their academic performance and interview with the group’s scholarship panel.

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2016 San Diego City College Scholarship Recipients and Friends of Downtown Presenters

For additional information about the Friends of Downtown, please visit www.FODSD.org.screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am

Thank you in advance to those who plan to contribute to the Salvation Army, Friends of Downtown or any other organization working to lift up our neighbors and our communities.

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