Holiday Spirit

Lene Lauese, a staff member at Ecumenical Hunger Program, puts a bag of produce in a client's car at a drive-thru set up by the nonprofit in East Palo Alto on March 19. Clients come by to pick up bags of groceries. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Posted December 3, 2020

Amid pandemic, Holiday Fund launches charitable campaign
Donations help Ecumenical Hunger Program and nine other nonprofits serve the community

by Palo Alto Weekly and Almanac staff

For the past eight months, local nonprofit organizations like East Palo Alto's Ecumenical Hunger Program have been scrambling to meet the needs of their clients. In ordinary times, Ecumenical Hunger Program staff would be hard at work to provide emergency food, clothing, furniture, household essentials, social support and sometimes financial assistance for families in need.

But since the pandemic and shutdown began, the agency has had to do a hard pivot.

With families out of work and many not qualifying for government assistance, the greatest need in the community has simply been food, according to Executive Director Lesia Preston.

The nonprofit is distributing 1,000 boxes of food per week at least double the pre-pandemic level of 350 to 500, she said. Because of public health mandates, the 45-year-old nonprofit cannot bring in volunteers to help, and it has temporarily closed all services except for essential food programs.

Food boxes containing protein, vegetables, grains, cereals and canned goods are distributed using a drive-thru method at the agency's Pulgas Avenue headquarters in East Palo Alto.

Unfortunately, traditional food bank resources at the same time are "diminishing," she said.

To supplement food bank supplies, Preston and her staff have contacted local grocery stores, warehouses, restaurants and farms to see if they can get donations or purchase critical supplies in bulk.

"Staff members are wearing multiple hats, which include sourcing food, picking up and accepting fresh food donations, stocking the food pantry, packing food boxes, directing traffic and more," Preston said.

She and key staff members are working seven days a week to keep up with the demand.

To give a much-needed boost to organizations like Ecumenical Hunger Program, The Almanac is again launching its annual Holiday Fund campaign to raise funds for dozens of programs serving families and children in the Midpeninsula.

Last year, Almanac readers and foundations contributed over $150,000. Because The Almanac and its Holiday Fund partner the Silicon Valley Community Foundation cover all the administrative costs of the campaign, every dollar raised goes directly to this year's 10 nonprofit organizations.

"The needs in our area have always been pressing for those families and individuals who aren't benefiting from the tech economy, but this year, with the pandemic, our nonprofit partners are seeing deeper and more widespread pleas for assistance. What's more, those agencies are operating within considerable constraints due to public health protocols," Almanac Publisher Bill Johnson said.

"We've always been inspired by the unflagging generosity of our fellow neighbors who donate to the Holiday Fund. As this pandemic has exacerbated the inequities in our community, we're asking those who have been less materially affected to please join us in supporting these nonprofits that are working around the clock to ease the burdens of increasing numbers of people," Johnson said.

In addition to individual tax-deductible donations, the fund this year is being supported through matching grants from Rotary Club of Menlo Park, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation so that every donation is effectively doubled.

Make a donation
2021 Recipient Agency

Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula
Provides after-school academic support, enrichment, and mentoring for 1,800 low-income K-12 youth at nine locations across Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, and the North Fair Oaks neighborhood of Redwood City.

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.

Health Connected
Serves over 5,000 students and their families each year through comprehensive sexual health education programs. Students learn to have ongoing communication with parents and to make informed decisions that will apply to their lives, now and in the future.

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

Literacy Partners
Supports literacy programs and projects through fundraising and community awareness. Helps community members enhance their reading, writing and related skills and education to improve their economic, professional and personal wellbeing.

Ravenswood Family Health Center
Provides primary medical and preventive health care for all ages at its clinic in East Palo Alto. Of the more than 17,000 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 by voluntary contributions and community grants, St. Anthony's is the largest dining room for the needy between San Francisco and San Jose. It also offers take-home bags of food, as well as emergency food and clothing assistance.

St. Francis Center
Helps low-income, working families become self-supporting members of the community by providing long-term solutions through educational programs for children and parents, as well as after-school programing at Siena Youth Centers. St. Francis Center also provides housing, food and clothing services to address short-term needs.

StarVista
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. StarVista 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.

Upward Scholars
Upward Scholars empowers low-income adults by providing them with financial support, tutoring, and other assistance so they can continue their education, get higher-paying jobs, and serve as role models and advocates for their children.


As of Jan. 12, 2020
170 donors have contributed $261,427
to the Almanac Holiday Fund.
* indicates amount withheld

26 Anonymous131,473
Paul Welander50
Jim Lewis*
James E. Esposto*
Dorothy Saxe*
Roger & Pat Witte200
Sybille Katz*
Erika L Crowley*
Mark and Karen Weitzel*
Barbara Jacobson150
Bruce Whitson200
Vicky Rundorff*
Michael & Lenore Roberts150
Robert & Barbara Simpson*
Dorothy Kennedy*
Andrea G. Julian500
Kathy & Bob Mueller100
George & Mary Norbeck50
Jerry & Shirley Carlson250
Lorraine Macchello100
Lucy Reid-Krensky200
Penny & Greg Gallo500
Jaggers Family5,000
Gisela Brugger1,000
Douglas Adams*
Ronald Clazie50
Richard Duda200
Dan Hilberman100
Marcia Makino & Rod Perkins*
Betsy & Horace Nash500
Douglas Keare Jr. & Jill Morgan1,500
Ross & Elizabeth McDougall300
Paul Perret500
Bob Williams & Carol Mayer Marshall500
Joan Lane1,000
George Mader100
Shirley & John Reiter300
Eliot & Cris Terborgh*
Bob & Barbara Ells500
Joe & Julie Zier150
Kathy & Smith McKeithen*
Bill & Nancy Ellsworth*
Diane & Dave Toole100
Leon & Abby Campbell100
Robert Mullen250
Marc & Mary Ann Saunders*
Ann Hillman1,000
Barbara Kinsey300
Claiborne Jones200
D. Robin Toews25
John Woods500
Valerie Van Sickle100
Joyce Pharriss500
Mary Pless500
Susan Russell100
Robin Ferris25
Deborah Hage10
Bill Wohler419
Mary Cooper125
Susan Kritzik250
Richard Thesing1,000
Jim Sharp100
Karen Alden350
Marieanne Cullen50
Sally Freyberg200
Catherine Siegel300
Carolyn Davis100
Joan Rubin100
Kayleen Miller100
Betty Meissner200
Sid Chen & Sandra Lee Chen*
Heather Watson100
Kathy & Bob Feldman200
Katherine Bryant*
Clay & Nita Judd*
E.R. & B.L. Dodd150
Robert & Connie Loarie*
John A. Galen100
Bob & Mary Dodge200
Catherine A Cerny*
Bob & Marna Page*
Diane & Martin Brandt500
Timothy C. Wright3,000
Laura Hofstadter & Leonard Shar500
Mayling Dixon100
Sandy Shapero500
John Donald100
Sue-Viole Mcmahon-Bishop75
Peter Rudd50
Dorothy Fuller-Polash500
William & Patricia Critzer1,000
Leslie Airola & Hy Murveit500
Avilla Family 60
Don Lowry & Lynore Tillim100
Margaret Melaney300
Sabelman Family250
Tate Family10,000
Terri D. Bullock Family5,000
Kevin Novak & Hannah Gilula1,000
Betsy & Frank Stockdale500
Connie & Bob Lurie*
Liz McDougall300
Margaret & Jamis MacNiven100
Allison Butler & Richard Peers2,000
The Brennan Family500
Barbara & Bill Binder*
Cynthia Dusel-Bacon & Charles Bacon200
Donald Kirtley150
George Fisher500
Jeffrey & Diane Garver1,000
Hannah Sowerwine100
Barbara Fullerton200
Janet Cook500
Mendelsohn Family10,000
Jelani Kejon200
Lynne Fovinci100
Bruce & Ann Willard1,000
Melanie Austin*
The Frank Sammanns50
Nancy Federspiel600
David Reneau100
Linda Craig250
David Dickinson1,000
Kathryn Stivers1,000
Gail & Susan Prickett500
Don & Catherine Coluzzi*
Noble & Lorraine Hancock500
Carol A. Kemper200
Kenneth Ashford180
Elizabeth Bosman100
In Memory Of

Bill Hewlett & Dave Packard100
Annie Strem*
Scott Carey1,000
Robert Oliver*
Bill Land*
Jean Zonner100
Frank & Celine Halet500
In Honor Of

Nancy Stevens*
Mar & PoPo Russ*
Businesses & Organizations

Menlo Park Firefighters' Association500
Rotary Club of Menlo Park Foundation10,000
Griffin & Sons Construction150
Narrative Histories200
Hewlett Foundation8,750
Packard Foundation15,000


Changes or corrections to listings may be made by contacting Kali Shiloh at [email protected]