Weekly launches 16th Holiday Fund campaign

Donors fund critical local services to families, children

The annual Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund campaign kicks off this week, with the aim of raising more than $260,000 for local, family-oriented nonprofit agencies.

Last year, more than 465 people donated to the charitable campaign, which is now in its 16th year.

Local foundations, including the Packard and Hewlett foundations, are providing matching funds as they have in previous years. The Weekly and Silicon Valley Foundation cover all administrative costs of the campaign.

Adolescent Counseling Services of Palo Alto is one of 38 agencies supported by the fund this past year. It received $10,000 to provide counseling on local middle- and high-school campuses.

The grant funded 100 hours of individual and family therapy and crisis intervention to Palo Alto students, as well as supporting two community-education presentations on the topics of depression and mental health awareness, according to Aarika Riddle, the agency's development and marketing director.

"The grant we received from the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund was especially helpful this year as we saw an increase in clients at our On-Campus Counseling Program and provided critical services in thewake of the tragic suicides that have shaken our community," Riddle said.

The prolonged recession has made charitable giving all the more vital, said Dr. Philippe Rey, executive director of Adolescent Counseling Services (ACS).

"It's a vicious circle that all nonprofits are confronting during this time of economic uncertainty," Rey said. "The need for free and affordable services is up, but the ability to fund those services is down. ACS is fortunate to have such broad community support that is allowing us to sustain our critical programs."

Since the Holiday Fund was inaugurated in 1993, it has distributed several million dollars, often making it possible for organizations to create or continue specific programs. Grants in amounts ranging from $1,000 to $25,000 are awarded by a committee of Weekly staff members each spring, after review of applications and visits to the nonprofit agencies. Most grants are $5,000 or less, with a few select programs receiving larger grants.

The recipient of the largest grant last year, $25,000, was Reading Partners, a tutoring program at East Palo Alto Charter School that includes the Home Connections Family Literacy Program.

Several agencies received $10,000 each: Adolescent Counseling Services, Collective Roots, Downtown Streets, Inc., East Palo Alto Kids Foundation, InnVision, Kara, Nuestra Casa, Opportunity Health Center, Palo Alto Drug and Alcohol Community Collaborative and Palo Alto YMCA.

Donors of $25 or more will have their name acknowledged in the Weekly in every edition between late November and mid-January.

People are asked to make checks payable to the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund and send them to PAW Holiday Fund, P.O. Box 1610, Palo Alto, CA 94302. Contributors may also donate online by clicking HERE.

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On Friday, October 11, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

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