Holiday Fund raises nearly $130,000


Contributions to The Almanac's Holiday Fund drive hit nearly $130,000 this year, somewhat less than last year but continuing the solid trend in local communities of reaching out to help the less fortunate.

The total includes more than $30,000 from the Rotary Club of Menlo Park, and the William and Flora Hewlett and David and Lucile Packard foundations, all three longtime donors who supplement the fund every year.

Slightly more than 200 Almanac readers sent in donations, similar to the number of participants in prior years. These donors are helping to address the fallout from the sagging economy that has raised demand for services on the Peninsula to its highest level in many years.

This year $129,246 will be distributed in equal shares of $12,924 to 10 nonprofit organizations that provide those in need with food, shelter, medical treatment and other services.

The Holiday Fund is a partnership of The Almanac, the Hewlett, Packard and Rotary foundations and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which processes all contributions. No fees or other charges are assessed to any Holiday Fund donations; 100 percent of all funds raised go directly to the participating nonprofits.

Each of the following agencies will receive checks:

■ Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula. Provides after-school academic support and enrichment activities for 1,000 youth each day, ages 6 to 18. Operates clubhouses in Menlo Park's Belle Haven neighborhood, East Palo Alto and Redwood City, and after-school programs at schools in these communities designed to extend the learning day and supplement the school's curriculum.

■ Ecumenical Hunger Program. Provides emergency food, clothing, household essentials, special children's programs and sometimes financial assistance to families in need, regardless of religious preference, including Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets for more than 1,500 households.

■ Ravenswood Family Health Center. Provides primary medical care, behavioral health services 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 22,700 registered patients, most are low-income and uninsured.

■ St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room. Serves hundreds of hot meals six days a week in a social and friendly atmosphere to anyone in need. Funded entirely by contributions from the community, St. Anthony's is the largest soup kitchen between San Francisco and San Jose. It offers groceries to take home and distributes clothing to families.

■ 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.

■ Shelter Network. Provides short-term shelter and transitional housing services to more than 3,700 adults and children each year. Offers programs for families and individuals to become self-sufficient and return to permanent housing.

■ Youth and Family Enrichment Services. Provides many programs to help people who struggle with substance abuse, domestic violence, mental health, relationship and communications issues. Helps strengthen youth, families and individuals to overcome challenges through counseling, education, and residential services.

■ Project Read-Menlo Park. 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 volunteer tutors assisted more than 300 students.

■ Teen Talk Sexuality Education. Provides educational programs for youth and adults to help teens make healthy choices that will result in lower rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Its "Teen Talk" program last year served thousands of youth at public school sites in San Mateo County.

■ Fair Oaks Community Center. Serves more than 2,500 households each year with services ranging from food assistance to shelter referral to rental and crisis assistance. The center also has a subsidized child-care program and a fully operating senior center, and offers a variety of other social services and programs throughout the year.

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