Perhaps reflecting Silicon Valley's economic resurgence, the Almanac's Holiday Fund posted a sharp increase this year, welcome news for the 10 nonprofit organizations that benefit from the gifts from readers and local foundations.
Total contributions to the fund were up nearly $30,000 from last year, to $167,801. This year 174 Almanac readers donated to the Holiday Fund, which is in its 19th year of providing a helping hand to the organizations who serve the hungry, homeless and others who are down on their luck in our communities.
Each of the nonprofits will receive a check for $16,780 at a small ceremony that will be held at the Boys & Girls Club's Menlo Park clubhouse Thursday.
In addition to receiving just over $103,000 from readers, generous grants from the Packard, Hewlett and Rotary Club of Menlo Park foundations helped push the total higher. The local Trapp Charitable Fund also pitched in.
The Holiday Fund is grateful for the longstanding support of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which processes all the donations and writes the checks to the nonprofits. 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 in our community. Here are the nonprofits that each will receive a check for $16,780 this week:
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 distributes 40 million or more pounds of food every year. It gathers donations from individuals and businesses and distributes food to more than 231,000 people each month through more than 700 agencies and distribution sites in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.
Provides housing and comprehensive support to more than 4,600 men, women and children. Its "beyond the bed" approach has assured that 90 percent of those who leave Shelter Network's programs returned to permanent housing in an average of 120 days.
Formerly Youth and Family Enrichment Services, Star-Vista provides many 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.
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.
Fair Oaks Community Center
Provides housing assistance, childcare programs, older adult nutrition, emergency shelter referrals, legal services for low-income tenants and low-cost exercise programs for youth and adults.
Provides educational programs for youth and adults to help teens make healthful choices that will result in lower rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Its Teen Talk program serves more than 3,500 youth at public school sites in San Mateo County.