Editorial: A gift to the Holiday Fund helps those in needAs the Almanac's Holiday Fund heads into its 20th year, donors can look back with pride on a history of giving that has provided nearly $3.5 million to local nonprofits since it was launched in 1993. The history of giving to the Holiday Fund reflects the economic health of Silicon Valley, with peak donations reaching nearly $400,000 in 1999 and 2000, then plunging to around half that amount until falling even more in 2009. Since then, donors have picked up the pace, helping to push the 2011 total to $167,000, a jump of $30,000.
We hope all our readers and other donors keep that momentum going as we begin this year's drive. Last year, nearly 200 Almanac readers contributed to the Holiday Fund, which also received sizable gifts from the Rotary Club of Menlo Park and the Hewlett and Packard foundations, bringing the total amount raised to $167,000. That amount was divided equally among the 10 nonprofit agencies that provide food, shelter and counseling to homeless, sick and hungry residents who are down on their luck.
This year leaders of the nonprofit agencies see a wide range of needs that can be eased by the popular Holiday Fund grants. The Silicon Valley Community Foundation makes it possible for every dollar contributed to the Holiday Fund to be passed directly to the nonprofit agencies. No fees or other charges are taken out by the Almanac or the foundation.
If you are able, we urge you to consider a donation to the Almanac's Holiday Fund as we enter our twentieth year. Your contribution will help support agencies that provide a safety net to local residents who have nowhere to turn. These are our neighbors who may have been laid off unexpectedly, or had a catastrophic illness, or suffer from addiction or mental health problems. They deserve our help.
This year the Almanac's Holiday Fund will support the following nonprofit agencies in the community:
Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula
Provides after-school and academic support and activities for 3,200 young people, 6 to 18, at clubhouses in Menlo Park's Belle Haven neighborhood, East Palo Alto, and Redwood City, and offers programs at Flood and Belle Haven schools in Menlo Park, Hoover Community School in Redwood City, and McNair School in East Palo Alto
Ecumenical Hunger Program
Provides emergency food, clothing, household essentials, and sometimes financial assistance to families in need, regardless of religious preference, including Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets for more than 2,000 households.
Provides free literacy services to adults in the Menlo Park area. Trained volunteers work one-on-one or in small groups 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. In 2007-08, a total of 120 tutors assisted more than 300 students.
St. Francis Center
Provides services for families in need with the goal of helping them to live in dignity and become self-supporting community members. The center assists 2,400 people each month with such services as low-income housing, food and clothing, shower and laundry, counseling, community garden, and education.
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 16,500 registered patients, most are low-income and 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 30 million pounds of food last year. It gathers donations from individuals and businesses and distributes food to some 162,000 people each month through more than 700 agencies and distribution sites in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.
InnVision 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.
Provides training and job placement for people with the biggest problems, including returning parolees, long-term unemployed, homeless, welfare clients, marginalized youth, and those recovering from drug and alcohol abuse.
StarVista (formerly Youth and Family Enrichment Services)
Provides 22 programs to help people who struggle with substance abuse, domestic violence, mental health, and relationship and communications issues. Helps strengthen youth, families, and individuals to overcome challenges through counseling, education, and residential services.