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Palo Alto Weekly's annual Holiday Fund kicks off

Proceeds from charitable campaign support local nonprofits

Support for the homeless population. Training for developmentally disabled employees. Summer camp for low-income children facing life-threatening illness. Tutoring. Counseling. Science lab materials. Parent education resources. Medical supplies. Legal services.

The list goes on and on -- in fact, it's been going on for 23 years now.

The Palo Alto Weekly's Holiday Fund, whose campaign is launching this week, allocates money to nonprofits that cover a large swath of needs in the community -- nonprofits that are often the first line of defense and support for the most vulnerable, at risk and marginalized populations in the community.

"We are so inspired every year by the community-mindedness of all of the sponsoring foundations as well as the vast number of individuals who give, year after year, to make this a better place for everyone," Bill Johnson, publisher of the Palo Alto Weekly, said.

Over the decades, the annual charitable giving campaign, managed by the Weekly and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, has distributed more than $5 million to local nonprofits. This year's goal is to raise $350,000.

Additionally, those donating can rest assured that every dollar donated goes directly toward services. While nonprofits typically use a portion of donations to cover various expenses, such as a staff person's time, the Weekly and the Community Foundation pay for those expenses, which includes administration and advertising space.

"A unique feature of this campaign is that it absorbs overhead costs," Johnson said.

The community's charitable giving is enhanced by local foundations. Last year, the fund received dollar-for-dollar matching grants from the Packard, Hewlett, Arrillaga and Peery foundations, in addition to funding from a local anonymous family. Packard and Hewlett have donated to the fund since its inception in 1993.

The proceeds from the Weekly's annual Moonlight Run also support the fund, with this year's contribution at $58,000.

The recipients of the holiday grants are selected by a committee of current and past employees who, together, narrow down the pool of applicants by examining the services' impact, management and fiscal responsibility. This process entails conducting site visits, meeting with executive directors of the organizations and asking further questions. Last year, grant amounts ranged from $3,000 to $15,000.

In the spirit of giving, for the next seven weeks of the holiday season, the Weekly will feature one grant recipient each week, highlighting the way each organization has used the funds this past year.

Donations can be made at PaloAltoOnline.com/holiday_fund.

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​On Friday, September 21, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run, or—for the first time—half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

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