Almanac readers reached deeper into their pockets this holiday season to help their less-fortunate neighbors with food, housing assistance, job-skills training and other needs through the Almanac's Holiday Fund. Reader donations, along with contributions from several local foundations, totaled about $156,000 in this season's fundraising effort. That's about $4,000 more than was donated last year.
The funds will be split evenly among the 10 beneficiaries -- nonprofits that serve people in need on the Midpeninsula. Since its launch in 1993, the Holiday Fund has raised more than $3 million for such groups, which often struggle to meet the needs of families and individuals who might be down on their luck and unable to get by without a helping hand.
In addition to individuals who have donated to the Holiday Fund over the past two months, the Rotary Club of Menlo Park Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation also supported the effort. The donations are handled by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which doesn't charge for administration of the program, ensuring that your gifts go straight to the nonprofits.
Here are the 10 groups that will each receive a check for approximately $15,600 this year:
Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula
With locations in Menlo Park and the North Fair Oaks neighborhood in Redwood City, this organization provides academic and after-school support and activities for 1,750 at-risk K-12 kids. Participants attend programs at least twice a week during the school year and receive tutoring, mentoring, and academic support.
Ecumenical Hunger Program
This program provides emergency food, clothing and household essentials support, and sometimes financial assistance, to families, regardless of religious background. At Thanksgiving and Christmas time, the program provides baskets to more than 2,000 households.
Project Read-Menlo Park
Project Read offers free literacy services to adults in the Menlo Park area. It trains volunteers to work one-on-one with students wishing to 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.
Ravenswood Family Health Center
The center provides primary medical and preventive health care at clinics in Belle Haven and East Palo Alto. It also operates a mobile clinic at school sites. Most of the 17,000 registered patients are low-income and uninsured, and live in the Belle Haven, East Palo Alto, and North Fair Oaks areas.
St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room
St. Anthony's serves hundreds of hot meals six days a week to people in need. It also offers emergency food and clothing assistance. St. Anthony's is the largest dining room for the needy between San Francisco and San Jose.
Second Harvest Food Bank
Second Harvest is the largest collector and distributor of food on the Peninsula, distributing about 52 million pounds of food last year. Thanks to donations from individuals and businesses, it distributes food to more than 250,000 people each month through more than 770 agencies and sites in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.
InnVision Shelter Network
This nonprofit serves thousands of homeless families and individuals every year as they work toward self-sufficiency and seek permanent housing. It provides temporary housing and a range of support services, with 18 sites in Silicon Valley and on the Peninsula.
StarVista serves more than 32,000 people in San Mateo County with counseling, prevention, early intervention, education and residential programs. It also provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services, including a 24-hour suicide crisis hotline.
St. Francis Center
The center provides services for families in need, with the goal of helping them live in dignity and become self-supporting members of the community. It serves about 2,400 people monthly with services including low-income housing, food and clothing, shower and laundry, education, and counseling.
JobTrain provides training and job-placement services for those at risk, including the long-term unemployed, the homeless, marginalized youth, returning parolees, and those recovering from drug and alcohol abuse.