Local nonprofits have faced insurmountable challenges this year amid the COVID-19 health crisis. With the holiday season now in full swing, groups are offering ways for the community to help provide food, toys and other items to locals in need.
We've compiled a list of Midpeninsula service organizations in need of donations and how they've adapted their giving programs in response to the pandemic.
More than 2,700 Palo Alto residents and members of the Palo Alto Unified School District benefit from funds provided through The Christmas Bureau, which collects monetary donations that are turned into checks for the beneficiaries. Recipients are selected based on recommendations from social service and public agencies. Contributions can be made online through PayPal, or checks made out to "Christmas Bureau of Palo Alto" can be sent to Christmas Bureau of Palo Alto, P.O. Box 51874, Palo Alto 94303.
City of Palo Alto
Children in need can receive a toy this holiday season through the city of Palo Alto, which is accepting donations of new, unwrapped toys. Contributions can be made through a contactless drive-thru on Dec. 12-13, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., and Dec. 15-16, 3-7 p.m., at the Mitchell Park Community Center parking lot, 3700 Middlefield Road. The city also offers a list of places to volunteer and donate, which can be found here.
Community Services Agency
Community Services Agency offers social services for residents of Mountain View, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills. Its Holiday Sharing Program launches Dec. 7 and lasts through Dec. 23. It is seeking donations of $25 Target gift cards that will be handed out to no more than 1,800 children, seniors and people without a home.
The agency is also in need of $50 Safeway gift cards that will be distributed to 650 households, replacing special holiday bags of food given out in past years. The organization accepts nonperishable food from the community but no longer takes in-kind donations, such as toys and clothing.
Information: csacares.org or 650-968-0836
Ecumenical Hunger Program
To align with local health measures against COVID-19, the Ecumenical Hunger Program is seeking donations of money and gift cards to be safely distributed to families in need. The nonprofit is also running its Family Sharing Program, in which donors are provided with a wish list of items from families registered in the program and in the Teen Gifts Program. It is also accepting donations of nonperishable food and toiletries. Those wishing to donate new items can refer to the organization's wish list.
Information: ehpcares.org or 650-323-7781
The #FirstOfTheMonth campaign pays rent for working-class families on the Midpeninsula during the COVID-19 pandemic and has to date raised more than $2.2 million and kept more than 300 families in their homes. Three nonprofits, Dreamers Roadmap, Kafenia Peace Collective and Live in Peace, select the recipients, who receive the funding within 48 hours.
Hope's Corner, a nonprofit that provides free meals on Saturdays and Wednesdays, is seeking toiletries, cold weather clothing and nonperishable food during and after the holiday season. Donations can be dropped off at 748 Mercy St., Mountain View, on Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m.; Fridays, 9:30-10:30 a.m. and 2-6 p.m.; and Saturdays, 8-10 a.m. Donation drop-offs can be arranged here. The nonprofit is also seeking new, unwrapped toys for children from needy families. Monetary donations can be made by check or online.
Information: hopes-corner.org or 650-254-1450
LifeMoves, which serves homeless and housing-insecure individuals and families from Daly City to San Jose, including through programs in Menlo Park, Palo Alto and Mountain View, is accepting monetary contributions as well as sponsorships for special holiday meals in November and December. The nonprofit is also seeking donations through its website of $20 gift cards from Target, Walmart and Amazon. Cards can also be shipped or dropped off to the nonprofit's Menlo Park office.
The Palo Alto Community Fund
The Palo Alto Community Fund is raising money for COVID-19-related hardship relief, including direct financial support for basic needs, child care, food insecurity, health and mental support, and housing and homelessness as well as for programs and local nonprofits that uplift vulnerable communities and families, provide educational opportunities and enhance community life.
Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund
Now in its 28th year, the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund gathers funds donated by the community and turns them into grants for nonprofits assisting children and families across the Midpeninsula. All contributions go back to service groups with help from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which handles and distributes the funding. The Holiday Fund has given away more than $7.5 million throughout its history. This year's goal is to raise $400,000.
Ronald McDonald House
Families with children suffering from life-threatening illnesses have found support through the Ronald McDonald House Charities' Bay Area Chapter. Its annual Comfort and Joy Drive collects toys, basic necessities and household items to help these families. The chapter has published a list of wish list items on Amazon and Target. Donors can purchase items from the list and send them to a regional location (items can also be gift wrapped with a photo of the item attached to the present). Gift cards will also be accepted from stores such as Walmart and Safeway.
St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room
St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room continues to provide 500 meals a day during the COVID-19 pandemic out of Menlo Park under a takeout model. The organization is in need of food, such as meat, canned items and dry goods. There is also a need for fresh fruits and vegetables in bulk. A complete list of items needed can be found here. The organization's clothing distribution service has been suspended due to the pandemic.
Information: paduadiningroom.com or 650-365-9664
The Toy Project
The Toy Project, a nonprofit founded by local teenagers, is collecting used toys for children who are up to 18 years old at St. Francis of Assisi Church in East Palo Alto. Examples of acceptable donations include sports equipment, books, scooters, skateboards, unopened school supplies and gently used clothing for teens. Contributions, benefiting more than 100 families, will be accepted before Dec. 15 at boxes in Portola Valley set up at the Alpine Hills Swim and Tennis Tennis Club front office at 4139 Alpine Road and outside 90 Bear Gulch Road.
Information: 650-850-2656, thetoyproject.org
Toys for Tots
The national Toys for Tots Program, formed by the U.S. Marine Corps, aims to collect new, unwrapped toys for less fortunate children. In 2019, the organization gave away 50,215 toys to 41,321 children in Santa Clara County. This year, a virtual toy store allows donors to shop for items that will be delivered to Toys for Tots.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
The Palo Alto and Menlo Park divisions of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs are in need of hygiene items, paperback books and new clothing, specifically socks and underwear, to benefit local veterans this holiday season and beyond. The local VA divisions are also in need of monetary donations for temporary lodging and patient activities. Funds can be contributed online at this webpage.
Information: paloalto.va.gov or 650-858-3903
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 Digital Editor Jamey Padojino at [email protected]