There's no better way to embrace the holiday spirit than giving back. On the Midpeninsula, there are many opportunities to lend a helping hand, from contributing toys and food to collecting clothes and funds.
Read on to learn how you can meet the needs of local agencies and organizations.
Access Books Bay Area
Access Books Bay Area provides books for children who live under the poverty line, as well as library revitalization grants for underresourced schools serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. The grants, which range between $15,000 and $20,000, allow schools to purchase books for children to read for pleasure, paint colorful murals and add books to classrooms. To make a donation online, visit the link below.
Founded in 1955 by school nurses and staff, the nondenominational nonprofit organization Christmas Bureau supports those in need during the holiday season. After initially collecting toys, gifts and food and distributing them, the organization now distributes checks to families in need along with seniors and homeless persons. The Christmas Bureau promises on its website that 98% of each gift reaches those in need. Those wishing to contribute can send checks made out to the "Christmas Bureau of Palo Alto" to P.O. Box 51874, Palo Alto, CA 94303. The nonprofit also accepts donations via PayPal on its website.
City of Palo Alto
The city of Palo Alto is holding a Holiday Toy Drive this year to benefit local youth. Community members are welcome to donate new and unwrapped toys, books, gift cards and other items at various locations.
Until Dec. 14 at 5:30 p.m., Palo Alto residents and other Peninsula community members can drop off gifts at the Mitchell Park Community Center at 3700 Middlefield Road, the Lucie Stern Community Center at 1305 Middlefield Road or at any Palo Alto library or fire station.
Community Services Agency
The Community Services Agency has been providing safety net services for Mountain View, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills residents in need since 1957. Its programs include a food and nutrition center, homeless prevention programs and various senior services, including the senior nutrition program at the Mountain View Senior Center. The organization offers various volunteer opportunities, including for senior companions and drivers who can transport food donations. Those wishing to donate can mail checks made out to "Community Services Agency" to: Community Services Agency, Development Department, 204 Stierlin Road, Mountain View, CA 94043.
Information: csacares.org or 650-968-0836.
Ecumenical Hunger Program
The Ecumenical Hunger Program provides food, clothes, household supplies and other support to people in East Palo Alto, Menlo Park and surrounding communities who are going through financial or personal hardship. This year, the organization is looking for new and gently used coats to distribute to those in need as part of its Winter Coat Drive, and locals can drop off coats along with other goods at 2411 Pulgas Ave. The Ecumenical Hunger Program also helps distribute coats collected by national nonprofit organization One Warm Coat. For a list of currently accepted items, volunteer opportunities or to make a monetary donation, visit the link below.
Information: ehpcares.org or 650-323-7781.
Hope's Corner, based out of Trinity United Methodist Church in Mountain View, serves a free breakfast and bag lunch to community members at the corner of Hope and Mercy streets every Wednesday and Saturday. They also offer shower facilities. The nonprofit is currently running its 11th annual holiday toy drive, allowing families to pick out gifts for their children. Those interested in donating or volunteering to accept and sort the donated toys can visit the link below for more information and to browse a wish list. The drive will conclude with the Children's Holiday Sharing Event on Dec. 18, where Hope's Corner will distribute toys to families. Beyond the toy drive, the nonprofit also accepts monetary donations and various items, such as food and toiletries, throughout the year to support families in need.
Information: hopes-corner.org or 650-254-1450.
The Menlo Park Kiwanis Club will not be holding a Christmas Tree Lot event this year. But the club is always looking for monetary donations to help fund college scholarships that will go towards graduating Menlo-Atherton High School students.
Information: menloparkkiwanisclub.org or 650-327-1313.
LifeMoves, a nonprofit focused on fighting homelessness in Silicon Valley, offers several ways for the Peninsula community to help those in need this holiday season. Locals can volunteer to donate a holiday meal to a family in need, compile a holiday care package for those living at LifeMoves shelters or provide decorating kits to help make LifeMoves facilities more festive and welcoming for those the organization serves. Those who wish to support LifeMoves can also make a financial donation to support the nonprofit directly. Visit the website below to find a way to help and sign up.
Live In Peace
Live in Peace is an East Palo Alto nonprofit that helps youth and young adults reclaim and pursue their own visions for their futures. That includes working to academically re-engage high school students, running a gap-year project for recent high school graduates and providing scholarships and support to those in college. The group's Drop the Debt Fund helps pay off the student loans of the college graduates with whom the nonprofit works. For more information on making a donation, including to the Drop the Debt Fund, visit the link below.
Palo Alto Community Fund
Awarding more than 1,000 grants since its establishment in 1979, the Palo Alto Community Fund collects monetary donations year-round to provide grants to more than 70 local nonprofits. Visit the website below to donate or view the list of organizations they support in order to contribute directly.
Information: paloaltocommfund.org; 650-690-0370.
Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund
Now in its 30th year, the annual giving campaign provides grants to Midpeninsula nonprofits serving children, families and individuals. Each donation will be doubled thanks to local foundations. The fund, which has distributed almost $9 million in its history, has set a goal of raising $600,000 this season. The campaign will run through early January. All donations are tax-deductible. Visit the links below to learn more about past recipients and make an online contribution. Checks can be made payable to Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund and sent to 450 Cambridge Ave., Palo Alto, 94306.
Redwood City Education Foundation
The Redwood City Education Foundation supports underserved students in kindergarten through eighth grade in the Redwood City School District, where they attend campuses that don't have PTAs or PTOs. The foundation provides funds to help students with social-emotional resilience, mental health and academic performance. To make a donation online, visit the link below. Contributions by mail can be sent to RCEF, P.O. Box 3046, Redwood City, CA 94063.
Ronald McDonald House Charities Bay Area
The Ronald McDonald House Charities' Comfort & Joy Drive collects and distributes items to support critically ill children and their families. It has a most-needed items list that includes toys for all ages, diapers, disposable utensil kits, travel size toiletries and clothing of all sizes. Online donation wish lists are also available on Amazon and Target. During the second week of December, a holiday toy shop also will provide families with the opportunity to "free shop" for three gifts per child/patient where staff and volunteers can wrap each selected item. Unwrapped donations can be dropped off Nov. 28 through Dec. 24 at 510 Sand Hill Road, Palo Alto.
St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room
St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room in Menlo Park, which feeds and clothes the poor, is seeking food donations in bulk quantities for cooking and smaller-sized food items that can be given to families and individuals as groceries. Nonperishable foods are preferred, although the center also accepts fruits and vegetables. The center does not take prepared food unless it is cooked in a commercial kitchen. The center also accepts clothing and shoes for adults, children and infants. Donations can be dropped off Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. at 3500 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park.
Information: paduadiningroom.com or 650-365-9664.
Toys for Tots
Started by the U.S. Marine Corps in 1947 and celebrating its 75th anniversary, Toys for Tots collects new, unwrapped toys to give to less fortunate children for Christmas. Toys may be dropped off at various drop box locations or donated through the virtual toy box. Donors choose a child's age and a toy from a menu and pay online for the gifts, which are distributed throughout the country. Gifts can be distributed locally too in some cases.
WeHope, a nonprofit that helps people with housing, job training, life skills and wellness services, is collaborating with Palo Alto Animal Control for a Holiday Pet Supply Drive. It is asking people to donate unopened dog and cat food, treats, food for small animals, bedding and new or gently used toys. Donations can be dropped off at bins located in Palo Alto, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills until Dec. 14. Donation sites include: the Palo Alto Library branches, Palo Alto Police Department, VCA Palo Alto Animal Hospital, Los Altos Police Department, Los Altos Village Association and Los Altos Hills Parks and Recreation.
WeHope also is organizing a Christmas gift giveaway for children in need. Donations can be purchased through an Amazon wish list or dropped off at the WeHope office until Dec. 9, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1854 Bay Road, East Palo Alto.
Information: [email protected] or 650-208-7221.
If your 501(c)(3) organization is in need of donations this holiday season and would like to be listed in this article, contact Digital Editor Jamey Padojino at [email protected].