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Editorial: Solid year for Almanac's Holiday Fund

During a year when the economy was lukewarm at best, Almanac readers dug deep and contributed more than $150,000 to the Holiday Fund, which supports 10 of the area's nonprofit agencies.

A total of 187 donors, including some foundations, gave $152,000 to the Fund this year, down slightly from last year but still a respectable total. It means that each of the 10 nonprofit agencies will receive a check for $15,259, a welcome gift to start the new year. The Rotary Club of Menlo Park Foundation, and the Hewlett and the Packard foundations, continued to be major supporters of the Holiday Fund.

Started in 1993 with the idea of helping to support the numerous nonprofit agencies in the community, the Holiday Fund has raised more than $3 million over the last 21 years to fund programs that help local residents who are down on their luck.

The Holiday Fund receives critical support from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which processes all donations and writes the checks that will be presented to the beneficiaries in a few weeks. No fees or other charges are taken out by the Almanac or the foundation, so that every dollar contributed goes directly to the recipient agencies that work for our community.

Here are the nonprofits that each will receive a check for $15,259.

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula

Provides after-school and academic support and activities for 1,750 at-risk K-12 youth at nine locations in Menlo Park, East Palo Alto and the North Fair Oaks neighborhood of Redwood City. Members attend at least twice a week during the academic year and receive tutoring, mentoring and academic support.

Ecumenical Hunger Program

Provides emergency food, clothing, household essentials and sometimes financial assistance to families in need, including Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets for more than 2,000 households.

Project Read-Menlo Park

Provides free literacy services to adults in the Menlo Park area. Trained volunteers work one-on-one to help adults improve their basic reading, writing and English language skills so they can achieve their goals and function more effectively at home, at work and in the community. Volunteers also help students acquire basic keyboard and computer skills.

Ravenswood Family Health Center

Provides primary medical and preventive health care for all ages at its clinics in Belle Haven and East Palo Alto. It also operates a mobile clinic at school sites. Of the more than 17,000 registered patients, most are low-income, uninsured and live in the ethnically diverse East Palo Alto, Belle Haven and North Fair Oaks areas.

St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room

Serves hundreds of hot meals six days a week to people in need who walk through the doors. Funded entirely by voluntary contributions, St. Anthony's is the largest dining room for the needy between San Francisco and San Jose. It also offers emergency food and clothing assistance.

Second Harvest Food Bank

The largest collector and distributor of food on the Peninsula, Second Harvest Food Bank distributed 52 million pounds of food last year. It gathers donations from individuals and businesses and distributes food to more than 250,000 people each month through more than 770 agencies and distribution sites in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

Inn Vision Shelter Network

Provides shelter/housing and supportive services across 18 sites in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Peninsula. Serves thousands of homeless families and individuals annually on their path back to permanent housing and self-sufficiency.

Star Vista

Serves more than 32,000 people throughout San Mateo County, including children, young people and families with counseling, prevention, early intervention, education and residential programs. Star Vista also provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services, including a 24-hour suicide crisis hotline, an alcohol and drug helpline, and a parent support hotline.

Fair Oaks Community Center

Provides housing and food assistance, emergency shelter referral, legal services, a childcare program, older adult nutrition and low-cost exercise programs for youth and adults.

Teen Talk Sexuality Education

Teen Talk helps young people feel confident and supported to make informed decisions about their own sexual health through in-school programs, parent education and training for youth program providers.

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