Community Notebook: 'Tis the season for giving

A guide to Midpeninsula organizations gathering donations during the holidays

For Midpeninsula nonprofits, turning the holiday season into a festive time for those in need is dependent on community contributions. From toy drives to food donations to monetary contributions, here's how you can help local organizations deliver merry and bright memories:

Christmas Bureau | Palo Alto

The Christmas Bureau collects monetary donations and distributes checks to over 2,700 individuals who are Palo Alto residents or members of the Palo Alto Unified School District recommended by social service and public agencies. Recipients can choose how they spend the funds. Donations can be made online at its website listed below or by checks made out to "Christmas Bureau of Palo Alto" that can be sent to Christmas Bureau of Palo Alto, P.O. Box 51874, Palo Alto, CA 94303.


City of Palo Alto Toy Drive | Palo Alto

The city of Palo Alto is seeking new and unwrapped toys, books and gifts that will be given to local youth. Donations can be dropped off at the following locations through Dec. 16:

• City Hall Cafe, 250 Hamilton Ave.

• Cubberley Community Center, 4000 Middlefield Road.

• Lucie Stern Community Center, 1305 Middlefield Road.

• Mitchell Park Community Center, 3700 Middlefield Road.

• Palo Alto Art Center, 1313 Newell Road.

• Palo Alto libraries: Children's Library, 1276 Harriet St.; Mitchell Park Library, 3700 Middlefield Road; and Rinconada Library, 1213 Newell Road.

• Palo Alto fire stations: Station 1, 301 Alma St.; Station 2, 2675 Hanover St.; Station 4, 3600 Middlefield Road; Station 5, 600 Arastradero Road; and Station 6, 711 Serra St., Stanford.

• Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo's temporary location, 4050 Middlefield Road.

Information: Recreation coordinator Tyler Stetson at 650-463-4929 or

Community Services Agency | Mountain View

The Community Services Agency (CSA) offers several services year-round to Mountain View and Los Altos residents. The agency runs a Holiday Sharing Program, in which parents are able to shop free of charge for presents for their children. This year, the organization is seeking donations of gift cards to Target, Walmart and Amazon, to offer more options to parents, especially those with older children. The CSA office at 204 Stierlin Road in Mountain View will accept donations for their holiday and toy programs during their normal business hours: weekdays from 9 a.m.-noon and 1:30-4 pm.

Information: Volunteer Coordinator LaDrea Clark at (650) 964-4630 or or

Ecumenical Hunger Program | East Palo Alto

The Ecumenical Hunger Program offers three services each holiday season. The Family Sharing Program provides both food and gifts to low-income families in Menlo Park, Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and surrounding communities. The program pairs a donor with a family, and provides the donor with a wish list of food and new items. The Teen Gifts Program, which accepts donations of money, gift cards and gifts to benefit teenagers who have been overlooked (the majority play a caretaker role in their families, looking after younger siblings, filling in for working parents who cannot afford child care). The Holiday Box Service brings boxes of food with supplies to make Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners with leftovers for families in need. Lists of both food and non-food items that the program is seeking for the service can be found on its website listed below.

Information: For donations, contact Executive Director LaKesha Roberts at

Hope's Corner | Mountain View

Hope's Corner, a nonprofit that provides free breakfast and a bag lunch every Saturday and free showers to unhoused people, is seeking sleeping bags, blankets, men's jeans and monetary donations. Donations can be dropped off on Thursdays from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. and Saturdays from 7 a.m.-noon at Trinity United Methodist, 748 Mercy St., Mountain View. While Hope's Corner is holding their annual Hope's Corner Children's Christmas Party on Dec. 15 and 16, gifts will be distributed by their partner, Community Services Agency, on those same days.

Information: or 650-254-1450.

Kiwanis Christmas tree lot | Stanford

The Menlo Park Kiwanis Club Christmas tree lot will be open from Friday, Nov. 23 through Dec. 15. The lot will have noble fir trees delivered fresh from Oregon weekly, as well as wreaths and other holiday decorations. The Kiwanis Christmas tree lot serves as the biggest fundraiser for the club, which uses donations collected throughout the year to make charitable contributions to local community organizations, including scholarships for Menlo-Atherton High School graduates. The lot is located on the Stanford University campus at the corner of Embarcadero Road and El Camino Real. Hours are weekdays from noon-7 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m.-8 p.m.


LifeMoves | Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Redwood City

LifeMoves combats homelessness through modern housing and intensive supportive services, including teaching comprehensive life skills. The nonprofit is running a variety of holiday programs. People can host a "Party with a Purpose," where their guests donate money or gift cards to LifeMoves instead of bringing traditional gifts. Hosts must contact LifeMoves prior to the party and collect donors' names and contact information. Organizations can host a holiday gift drive (view restrictions on website listed below). Gifts must be dropped off in Menlo Park by Dec. 14. Through Adopt-a-Household, every client at LifeMoves will receive two holiday-gift wishes. The organization is seeking people to purchase the specific gifts asked for by a family or by just one family member. A drop-off time and location will be assigned to those who sign up. The Holiday Dinner Basket program ensures that every homeless family will be able to enjoy a holiday meal together; donations of dinner baskets are needed (drop-off dates are Dec. 17-18). Through the Holiday Meal program, volunteers prepare and serve a holiday meal at a LifeMoves site.

Information: or contact the volunteer coordinator at or 650-685-5880, ext. 180.

Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund | Palo Alto

The Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund collects monetary donations that will be divided into grants for Midpeninsula nonprofit organizations with a range of needs and child care centers. Since launching in 1993, the fund has raised and distributed $6.8 million to community nonprofits. The Silicon Valley Community Foundation partners with the Weekly to manage the funds, none of which are used for overhead expenses. Now in its 26th year, the annual giving campaign aims to raise $350,000 this season.


Ronald McDonald House | Palo Alto

The Ronald McDonald House at Stanford provides a place for children and their families to stay while receiving treatment for life-threatening illnesses at local hospitals. Towards the end of the year, the House's Comfort & Joy Drive collects soft pillows, fun toys, self-care items and other gifts that help families relax and find moments of joy together. All gifts must be new and unwrapped with original tags and packaging. Items can be shipped to Comfort & Joy, C/O RMHC Bay Area, 510 Sand Hill Road, Palo Alto, 94304 or dropped between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. daily. The gift drop-off deadline is Tuesday, Dec. 18. A list of most-needed items can be found at its website listed below under the heading "Comfort & Joy."


St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room | Menlo Park

The Padua Dining Room serves more than 500 hot meals daily all year long and close to 900 daily during the holiday season. A traditional Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings will be served from noon-2:30 p.m. on Nov. 22. A feast also will be served from noon-2:30 p.m. on Christmas Day. In addition to providing meals, the Padua Dining Room welcomes Santa Claus for a toy giveaway on Christmas Eve. From 7-11 a.m., children up to 14 years old are welcome to visit with Santa and receive a gift. All programs rely on donations from the community. Food (especially frozen turkeys), new unwrapped toys and cash donations help to make these efforts possible. Volunteers are also invited to lend a hand.


Toys for Tots | Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, San Jose

The U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program collects new, unwrapped toys to distribute as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children. The organization's local chapter also has opportunities for volunteers to help sort, count and prepare toys at its San Jose warehouse. Pick-up donation boxes are available throughout Santa Clara County and help is welcomed at any of the numerous Toys for Tots events. Residents can also donate new and unwrapped toys at the following locations in Palo Alto through Dec. 15:

• Nordstrom, Stanford Shopping Center, 550 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto.

• SSL, 3825 Fabian Way, Palo Alto.

• Vance Brown Inc., 3197 Park Blvd., Palo Alto.

• Naehas Inc., 3600 W. Bayshore Road, Suite 104, Palo Alto.

• McLaren, 4192 El Camino Real, Palo Alto.

• Edge Hair Salon, 250 University Ave., Suite 103, Palo Alto (through Dec. 18).

• Agile Physical Therapy, 3825 El Camino Real, Palo Alto.

• Palo Alto Medical Foundation, 795 El Camino Real, Palo Alto (through Dec. 14).

• PsiQuauntum, 700 Hansen Way, Palo Alto (through Dec. 14).

• American Legion Palo Alto Post 375, 25 University Ave., Palo Alto.

• The Marc, Palo Alto, 501 Forest Ave., Palo Alto.

• Supercuts, 2190 W. Bayshore Road, Suite 170, Palo Alto.

• Alex and Ani, 180 El Camino Real, Space #206B, Palo Alto.

• Premier Property Management, 539 Alma St., Palo Alto.

• WilmerHale, 950 Page Mill Road, Palo Alto.

Information: Toys for Tots Volunteer Coordinator Sgt. Jyher Lazarre at 669-242-6193.

Veterans | Palo Alto, Menlo Park

The Palo Alto and Menlo Park divisions of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs are in need of hygiene items, paperback books and other items to distribute to local veterans through the holidays and beyond. To find out what items are most needed and how to make a donation, contact the volunteer services department at 650-858-3903. Monetary donations, which are used for temporary lodging for eligible veterans, patient activities and National Games, can be made online at


If your 501(c)(3) organization is in need of volunteers and donations for holiday events and would like to be listed in this article, contact Editorial Assistant Christine Lee at


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