We hope all our readers and other donors keep that spirit alive as we launch this year's annual Holiday Fund drive. Last year, 184 Almanac readers contributed to the Holiday Fund, which also received sizeable gifts from the Rotary Club of Menlo Park and the Hewlett and Packard foundations, bringing the total amount raised to $138,678. 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, now in its 20th 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 1,100 youths, 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, 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 comprehensive primary medical, dental, behavioral and preventive health care for all ages at clinics in Belle Haven and East Palo Alto. Of the more than 30,000 registered patients, over 97 percent are low income and uninsured from 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 in a social and friendly atmosphere to anyone in need. Funded entirely by voluntary contributions from the community, St. Anthony's is the largest dining room for the needy between San Francisco and San Jose. It also 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 45 million pounds of food each year. It gathers donations from individuals and businesses and distributes food to some 250,000 people each month through more than 650 agencies and distribution sites in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.
Project Read Menlo Park
Provides free literacy services to adults in the Menlo Park area. Trained volunteers work one to 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.
Provides short term-shelter and transitional housing services to more than 4,500 homeless men, women and children each year. Offers a range of housing and support programs for families and individuals to become self-sufficient and return to permanent housing.
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 serves more than 3,500 youth at public school sites in San Mateo County.
Formerly Youth and Family Enrichment Services, StarVista provides many programs to help people who struggle with substance abuse, domestic violence, and mental health, relationship and communications issues. Helps strengthen youth, families and individuals to overcome challenges through counseling, education, and residential services.
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.