Mark Kersey and Tony Teravainen unload gifts for military families
Mark Kersey (center) and Tony Teravainen unload gifts for military families. Courtesy of Kersey’s office

The Support the Enlisted Project and San Diego City Councilman Mark Kersey helped a group of military families Friday with shopping for holiday gifts and household necessities.

The Support the Enlisted Project assists junior enlisted and transitioning veteran families who are also dealing with a financial crisis. Families involved in STEP work with a financial counselor to budget better and help them apply for grants.

“Without the community support, many of these families would not be having a Christmas this year,” said STEP CEO and co-founder Tony Teravainen. “These families are away from home, struggling each month to meet their financial obligations and this allows them to redirect what they would have spent on gifts into reducing their debt or increasing their savings account.”

STEP invited military families in the military’s lowest pay grade to the shopping event, where they picked out holiday gifts, clothes, baby necessities and small household items for free.

While they shopped, Kersey met with participating military families and passed out toys collected during a drive he hosted.

“Many people don’t realize that San Diego military families are also in need, so I’m honored to partner with STEP to collect toys for our enlisted and transitioning veteran families,” Kersey said. “As we give out toys and other needed goods, it’s a joy to meet them and personally thank them for their service this holiday season.”

Residents seeking more information about STEP can visit the program’s website,

–City News Service