The holidays are a wonderful time for gathering friends and family, both far-flung and near. It is also a time for making charitable efforts, reaching out to strangers and those less fortunate. Serving others every day of the year, charities around the Bay Area depend heavily on the public during the holidays for that extra spirit of sharing and giving that can make such a big difference to others.
Donations Go Far
Many of the nation's largest charities are hard at work at locations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Goodwill illustrates the important multiplier effect of donations: "First, we help individuals develop the skills and experience needed for a sustainable livelihood. Second, we help the Bay Area by strengthening it with people invested in their futures and the futures of their families. Third, we help the environment by diverting goods from landfills." A tax deduction is another benefit to the charitable giver.
Goodwill in the Bay Area is grateful for both financial and material donations to serve 7,000 people annually and place 500 into direct employment. The charity "needs people to be heroes -- finding space in their annual giving to make a significant financial contribution," said Kathleen Moynihan, chief of development and innovation. "Over the past decade, our donors have changed the face of poverty in the Bay Area for the better."
"We especially can use name-brand clothes and accessories," said Leslie Bilbro, Goodwill's director of donations. Computers, electronics, cell phones, and small appliances are accepted, working or not.
The Salvation Army Golden State Division delivers services and hope to those less fortunate in local shelters, schools, daycare centers, and on our streets. This includes toys and food boxes for families on Christmas Day and blankets and warm clothing for the homeless. Most needed are new, unwrapped gifts; non-perishable food; and monetary donations. Silicon Valley and San Jose centers are looking for donations of new blankets, gloves, hats, sleeping bags, or hygiene items to assist with their Homeless Outreach Program. Salvation Army will pick up donations, including cars, running or not.
Laine J. Hendricks of the Salvation Army reminded, "Those famous Red Kettles can be found at storefronts around the Bay Area now through Christmas Eve. Donations to the Red Kettle campaign stay local in the community where they were donated."
American National Red Cross
"Consider honoring your friends and family this season with a meaningful gift from the Red Cross holiday giving catalog," suggests Cynthia Shaw, Red Cross spokesperson. See what your contribution means for those in need -- hot meals or blankets from $15 and vaccinations or emergency family kits from $25 are some examples. While every individual donation makes an impact, there are ways to grow that by hosting a fundraiser, organizing an event, or forming a blood drive in the Bay Area. Small donations of clothing, food, and supplies cannot be accepted, as there is no way to transport these items to emergency locations when disaster strikes. To donate $10 easily, text RedCross to 90999.
The San Francisco Firefighters Toy Program
SF Fire Fighters Union, Local 798, distributes 200,000 toys to 40,000 disadvantaged children aged 12 and under in the Bay Area. Dependent solely on donations, the SF Firefighters Toy Program requests that new, unwrapped gifts be dropped off at any fire station. Sally Casazza, chairperson, said that the most needed items are "dolls of ethnicity; books, games, and bath products suitable for older girls; sports equipment of all kinds, including new tennis balls and racquets, basketballs, footballs, soccer balls."
If you're having a holiday party at work, home, church, or school, you can support the charity by asking your guests to bring gifts in support of the Toy Program and contacting the charity so that a firefighter can collect them.
Meals on Wheels
San Francisco's Meals on Wheels delivers food and friendship to 2,500 homebound seniors. The charity is a labor-intensive one, so volunteers are needed as friendly visitors, grocery shoppers, delivery assistants, home cleaners, handymen and women, and office administrators. Stock contributions and cash donations are also highly appreciated. A donation of $12 provides meals and services for one day; $175 provides nutritious meals and services for two weeks. Meals on Wheels has partnered with Bloomspot, so when you register online to buy their offers, Meals on Wheels benefits.