For the first time in the 29-year history of the Holiday Fund — the annual charitable-giving drive launched by the Palo Alto Weekly to support local nonprofits — donors along the Peninsula contributed a record-breaking amount: more than $1.1 million.
"We are blown away by the generosity of this community, especially given that it's been a year of continued difficulties for many because of the pandemic," said Bill Johnson, publisher of the Palo Alto Weekly. "While we have provided the vehicle for supporting those in need, the power of the fund rests entirely with community members."
The $1.17 million represents combined giving to the holiday funds of the Palo Alto Weekly ($773,000), the Almanac ($310,000) and Mountain View Voice ($84,000), three sister news organizations within Embarcadero Media, of which Johnson is president and CEO.
With these funds, the company expects to be able to give grants to more than 80 nonprofits that are serving kids, families and others in need on the Peninsula. Embarcadero Media and its philanthropic partner, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, underwrite all the expenses of the campaigns so that every dollar raised will be distributed to these agencies.
The services of these nonprofits include everything from sending deserving teens to college, bridging learning gaps, providing environmental education, putting hot food in hungry stomachs, aiding people with disabilities, stepping in with help when times are tough and more. Grants will be made to the selected organizations by the end of April.
This year's fund was aided by large gifts from two individuals or families, in addition to local foundations. For the 11th year, a Palo Alto family contributed $100,000 to the fund, bringing their lifetime giving to $1.1 million.
And for the first time this year, a Silicon Valley philanthropist made the largest-ever donation to the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund and the Almanac Holiday Fund: $350,000, shared by the two charitable programs. Both donors wish to remain anonymous.
The Holiday Fund program has also enjoyed ongoing support from the Packard and Hewlett foundations, the Peery and Arrillaga foundations and several other family foundations. Proceeds from the annual Palo Alto Weekly Moonlight Run, which is held in the fall and has become one of Palo Alto's largest community events, benefit the Holiday Fund.
"As part of our mission to keep our communities informed and cohesive, every year our employees undertake the work of the Holiday Fund," Johnson said. "It's just another example of how local journalism helps to build and sustain the heart and soul of a local community."
Last year's Holiday Fund campaign raised and granted a record $680,000 to 74 nonprofits, bringing the total distributed over the fund's 28-year history to more than $8 million.
To read about the impact made by the nonprofits supported by the Holiday Fund, go to PaloAltoOnline.com/holiday_fund.