Holiday Spirit

Zoua Her and Lene Lauese, staff members at Ecumenical Hunger Program, put bags of produce in a client's car at drive-thru in East Palo Alto on March 19. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Posted November 13, 2020

Amid pandemic, Holiday Fund launches charitable campaign
Annual giving drive seeks to raise $400K for local nonprofits

by Palo Alto Weekly Staff

FFor the past eight months, local nonprofit organizations like East Palo Alto's Ecumenical Hunger Program have been scrambling to meet the needs of their clients. In ordinary times, Ecumenical Hunger Program staff would be hard at work to provide emergency food, clothing, furniture, household essentials, social support and sometimes financial assistance for families in need.

But since the pandemic and shutdown began, the agency has had to do a hard pivot.

With families out of work and many not qualifying for government assistance, the greatest need in the community has simply been food, according to Executive Director Lesia Preston.

The nonprofit is distributing 1,000 boxes of food per week — at least double the pre-pandemic level of 350 to 500, she said. Because of public health mandates, the nonprofit cannot bring in volunteers to help, and the 45-year-old nonprofit has temporarily closed all services except for essential food programs.

Food boxes containing protein, vegetables, grains, cereals and canned goods are distributed using a drive-thru method at the agency's Pulgas Avenue headquarters in East Palo Alto.

Unfortunately, traditional food bank resources at the same time are "diminishing," she said.

To supplement food bank supplies, Preston and her staff have contacted local grocery stores, warehouses, restaurants and farms to see if they can get donations or purchase critical supplies in bulk.

"Staff members are wearing multiple hats, which include sourcing food, picking up and accepting fresh food donations, stocking the food pantry, packing food boxes, directing traffic and more," Preston said.

She and key staff members are working seven days a week to keep up with the demand.

To give a much-needed boost to organizations like Ecumenical Hunger Program, the Palo Alto Weekly is again launching its annual Holiday Fund campaign to raise funds for dozens of programs serving families and children in the Palo Alto area.

Last year, nearly 400 business organizations and community members donated to the campaign, which then directed a record-breaking $465,600 to 63 vetted organizations in the area. Because the Weekly and its Holiday Fund partner the Silicon Valley Community Foundation covered all the administrative costs of the campaign, every dollar raised went directly to nonprofit organizations through grants of between $5,000 and $20,000, as well as into $1,000 college scholarships for eight high school students.

Since launching in 1993, the fund has given away more than $7.6 million.

"The needs in our area have always been pressing for those families and individuals who aren't benefiting from the tech economy, but this year, with the pandemic, our nonprofit partners are seeing deeper and more widespread pleas for assistance. What's more, those agencies are operating within considerable constraints due to public health protocols," Weekly Publisher Bill Johnson said this week.

"We've always been inspired by the unflagging generosity of our fellow neighbors who donate to the Holiday Fund. As this pandemic has exacerbated the inequities in our community, we're asking those who have been less materially affected to please join us in supporting these nonprofits that are working around the clock to ease the burdens of increasing numbers of people," Johnson said.

In addition to individual tax-deductible donations, the fund this year is being supported through matching grants from local, longstanding foundations, including the Packard, Hewlett, Peery and Arrillaga foundations, so that every donation is effectively doubled.

The Holiday Fund campaign is also seeded by the annual Palo Alto Weekly Moonlight Run & Walk, which this year took place virtually and raised more than $50,000 with help from participants and the event's corporate sponsors: Stanford Health Event, Bank of the West, Wilson Sonsini, Sutter Health/PAMF, Palantir, Facebook, Wealth Architects, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, A Runner's Mind, the city of Palo Alto and The Six Fifty.

In the coming weeks, the Weekly will profile several of the agencies that have benefited from the grants this year and show how donors' dollars are impacting people's lives.

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