Holiday Spirit

Jazmin Sosa, operations manager with the Ravenswood Education Foundation, talks about the $7,500 grant that the nonprofit received from the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund to help poor and homeless students from the Ravenswood City School District purchase new clothes. Photo by Sammy Dallal.

Posted November 15, 2019

Holiday Fund drive for charity kicks off
Annual Palo Alto Weekly campaign funds local nonprofit agencies that are improving kids' and families' lives

by Lloyd Lee

Jazmin Sosa knows the power of the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund to help families breathe a little easier. As operations manager for the nonprofit Ravenswood Education Foundation, which aids the six schools of the Ravenswood City School District, Sosa's well-acquainted with the hardships facing the East Palo Alto and east Menlo Park students.

According to her organization's 2018-19 annual report, 45% of enrolled students are homeless, which also includes children experiencing housing instability. In addition to these students, 89% of Ravenswood district's students come from low-income families.

"We define homelessness as not have stable or consistent housing, shared housing (such as) three families living in two bedrooms, families who have a curtain in the middle of a living room or families in RVs," Sosa said.

But with a $7,500 grant from the Holiday Fund this past year, the foundation's "Homeless Support Initiative Project" was able to provide children in unstable housing with clean clothes and — for some — white shirts and blue or khaki pants that fit the school's dress code. So far this year, 120 students from 61 families received gift cards to stores like Target and Old Navy to purchase clothing.

Gift cards, Sosa said, are "a great way to financially support these families while also giving them the options of what it is they want to get."

This approach not only cuts out the need to go through vendors to purchase uniforms or for families to go to school storage rooms full of clothes that might not be in the right size, but it also gives families a little more agency and independence in their lives.

"So rather than getting a used T-shirt, a used uniform or just a uniform that they might not really like, they can go to Target or Old Navy and just go purchase it," said Sosa, who personally drove to the stores to buy gift cards each filled with $50.

Having the ability to choose their own clothing is important to students. And according to research by Georgetown University's think tank, Future-Ed, access to clean clothes can significantly increase students' attendance.

"Our kids deserve it," said Jenna Watchel, executive director of the foundation. "The need is really great here in the community."

The Ravenswood Education Foundation is just one of the 57 local nonprofit organizations that benefited from the Holiday Fund this past year. Generous donors last year contributed a record-setting $411,000.

This week, the Holiday Fund is launching its 2019 campaign with a goal of raising $400,000.

Since 1993, the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund has distributed $7.2 million to nonprofits throughout the Palo Alto area that are helping children, families and individuals to excel through better education, live full lives with disability, ease their hunger, receive critical medical care, recover from trauma, gain life skills and more.

Among the donors last year were foundations and one family who provided matching gifts to encourage others' contributions: The Hewlett and Packard foundations ($25,000 each), the Peery and Arrillaga family foundations ($10,000 each) and an anonymous family ($100,000).

Because the Palo Alto Weekly and its partner, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, pay for all of the costs of running the charitable drive, 100 percent of every donation — which is tax deductible — is distributed directly to a nonprofit serving Palo Alto and East Palo Alto.

As in years past, the 2019 campaign got a financial kickstart with the proceeds from the Weekly's annual Moonlight Run in October, which was supported by eight corporate sponsors.

"I'm so proud of this annual community effort," Palo Alto Weekly Publisher Bill Johnson said. "The $25, $50, $100 donations build this fund. They represent the diversity of the community and speak to the shared belief in the power of everybody trying to do their share to the extent that they can.

"And I'm grateful to the nonprofits and their staffs who are doing the work day in and day out of walking alongside our friends and neighbors, giving them the helping hand and the tools they need to overcome hardship and make the most of opportunity."

"I welcome everybody to help us carry forward this vision again this year and to show our strong support for those in need," he said.

Apply for a Holiday Fund Grant

Nonprofits serving children and families may apply for funds by downloading our Grant Application Guidelines and Grant Application Form. Application deadline: 11:59 p.m. on Friday, January 13, 2023.

Make a donation
2022 Recipient Agency

49ers Academy$10,000

AbilityPath$10,000

Able Works$10,000

Ada's Cafe$25,000

Adolescent Counseling Services$7,500

Art in Action$10,000

Bay Area Friendship Circle$5,000

Beyond Barriers Athletic Foundation$5,000

Big Brothers Big Sisters
of the Bay Area
$10,000

Blossom Birth & Family$5,000

Canopy$5,000

CASA of San Mateo County$5,000

Children's Health Council$10,000

Christmas Bureau of Palo Alto$5,000

Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto$10,000

Counseling and Support Services for Youth - CASSY$15,000

DreamCatchers$15,000

East Palo Alto Academy Foundation$10,000

East Palo Alto Charter School$5,000

East Palo Alto Kids Foundation$15,000

East Palo Alto Tennis and Tutoring$15,000

East Palo Alto YMCA$10,000

Eastside College
Preparatory School
$7,500

EPACENTER$10,000

Family Connections$7,500

Fit Kids Foundation$5,000

Foundation for a
College Education
$10,000

Fresh Approach$10,000

Friends for Youth$5,000

Friends of the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo$10,000

Heart and Home Collaborative$10,000

Hope Horizon East Palo Alto$7,500

Jasper Ridge Farm$5,000

Kara$15,000

Learning Home Volunteers$10,000

Live In Peace$10,000

Magical Bridge Foundation$10,000

Mannakin Theater & Dance$5,000

Marine Science Institute$5,000

Midpen Media Center$7,500

Music in the Schools Foundation$8,000

My New Red Shoes$5,000

New Voices for Youth$5,000

Pacific Art League of Palo Alto$12,000

Palo Alto Art Center Foundation$10,000

Palo Alto Community Child Care $30,000

Palo Alto Players$10,000

Peer Point$20,000

Peninsula Bridge$10,000

Peninsula College Fund$10,000

Peninsula Healthcare Connection$10,000

Peninsula Volunteers$15,000

Peninsula Youth Theatre$5,000

Pursuit of Excellence Scholarship Foundation$20,000

Ravenswood Classroom Partners$20,000

Ravenswood Education Foundation$10,000

Reading Partners
Silicon Valley
$10,000

ReadySetExcel$5,000

Rebuilding Together Peninsula$7,500

Resource Area for
Teaching (RAFT)
$5,000

Rich May Foundation$5,000

Rise Together Education$10,000

Ronald McDonald House$5,000

Rosalie Rendu Center$5,000

Sager Family Farm$5,000

Silicon Valley
Urban Debate League
$7,500

St. Elizabeth Seton School$10,000

TheatreWorks$5,000

UNAFF (United Nations Association Film Festival)$10,000

WeHOPE$15,000

WomenSV$7,500

Youth Community Service$25,000

Child Care Grants

All Five$10,000

Covenant Children's Center$10,000

Creative Montessori
Learning Center
$10,000

Grace Lutheran Preschool$10,000

Palo Alto Friends Nursery School$10,000

Parents Nursery School$10,000


As of December 7th, 165 donors have contributed $145,397 to the Holiday Fund.
* indicates amount withheld at donor's request

24 Anonymous7,075
Eileen & Rick Brooks1,000
Maureen O'Connor150
Martha Shirk1,200
Jennifer DiBrienza & Jesse Dorogusker1,000
Diane and Brandy Sikic*
Alicia Newman100
Dorsey & Katherine Bass300
Edie Kirkwood1,000
Micri & Bob Cardelli*
George & Betsy Young*
Diana Diamond1,000
Brigid Barton 2,000
Korol Family250
Lawrence R. Yang & Jennifer W. Kuan10,000
Anthony & Susan Wood25,000
Lynn and Andrew Newman*
Katherine Bryant100
Barbara Riper*
Sally & Craig Nordlund500
Carolyn Caddes*
Kroymann Family250
Marian Adams100
Roy & Carol Blitzer*
Elaine Hah1,500
Retired*
Julie & Dan Lythcott-Haims250
Tess & Eric Byler150
Denise and Jeff Simons*
Keith and Linda Clarke*
Harriet Benson10,000
Arthur Keller250
Cynthia Costell100
George & Betsy Bechtel200
Ellen M. Lillington200
Tom & Nancy Fiene200
Tom & Patricia Sanders*
Amado & Deborah Padilla250
Margo Sensenbrenner*
Merele McClure250
Joanne Koltnow400
Christina Kenrick1,000
Richard Johnsson5,000
Xiaofan Lin100
Bonnie and Bryan Street*
Thomas Rindfleisch*
Jody Maxmin*
Diane and Joe Rolfe*
Diane Finkelstein250
Linda & Steve Boxer*
David & Betsy Fryberger400
Jan Aarts*
Judith Appleby300
Donald Barr150
Charles & Barbara Stevens*
Edward Kanazawa300
Karen A. Latchford*
Kingsley Jack250
Richard Zuanich150
Patti Yanklowitz and Mark Krasnow100
Denise Savoie and Darrell Duffie*
Elizabeth Salzer & Richard Baumbartner*
Marcia & Michael Katz200
Scott and Jan Kilner500
Dorothy Saxe100
Kieschnick family1,000
Barbara Klein*
Dorothy Deringer200
Art and Peggy Stauffer500
Ed & Linda DeMeo500
Penny & Greg Gallo500
Scottie Zimmerman100
Fran Codispoti250
Ted & Ginny Chu*
The Dong Family200
Bill Reller*
Harry E & Susan B Hartzell100
Ann Burrell & Charles Smith*
Janis Ulevich*
Theradep Technologies500
Jack and Susan Thomas*
Julie and Jon Jerome*
Andrea B. Smith100
Leif and Sharon Erickson500
The Havern Family5,000
Gwen Luce and Family*
Bruce Campbell*
Freddy & Jan Gabus250
Richard & Pat Douglas50
Susan & Doug Woodman150
Donald Price*
Judy Ousterhout*
Judy Kramer*
Kingston Duffie & Elizabeth Schwerer500
Roger & Joan Warnke300
Jerry & Bobbie Wagger*
John Keller100
Mahlon & Carol Hubenthal*
Margaret Forsyth and Glenn Rennels*
Charlotte Johansen200
Leo & Marlys Keoshian250
Donna Silverberg100
Paul & Jane Millman250
In Memory Of

Walter Dean*
Er-Ying and Y.C. Yen250
Jack Sutorius750
Michele Wilson*
Bob Donald350
Leonard Ware*
Robert Spinrad100
August King*
Bob Simoni500
David W. Mitchell*
Paul Seaver*
Gerald Berner300
Ian Halliday250
Ray Bacchetti300
Marie and Don Snow200
Andre Jones *
Jim and Dottie Mellberg*
Ruth & Chet Johnson*
David Sager100
Ted Linden200
Lily & Philip Gottheiner150
Chet Brown*
Phil Zschokke200
Nellie Perna Bartello100
Bob Donald*
Steven T. Ross100
In Honor Of

Marilyn Sutorius750
Darla Tupper3,922
Leo & Sylvia Breidenbach and Thomas & Louise Phinney1,000
Polly Caddes*
Joe Simitian*
Gabby Perez & Logan Marsh250
Dr Ron Radzilowski*
Businesses & Organizations

Angelo Family Foundation 5,000
Palo Alto Business Park*
Hearts & Minds Activity Center75
Alta Mesa Cemetery & Funeral Home2,500
Peery Foundation10,000
Arrillaga Foundation10,000

Past Holiday Fund Grant Recipients

2018-2019 | 2017-2018 | 2016-2017 | 2015-2016 | 2014-2015 | 2013-2014 | 2012-2013 | 2011-2012 | 2010-2011 | 2009-2010 | 2008-2009 | 2007-2008 | 2006-2007 | 2005-2006 | 2004-2005 | 2003-2004 | 2002-2003 | 2001-2002 | 2000-2001 | 1999-2000