(credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
In addition to these South Bay-based charities with holiday drives, we look at East Bay-based organizations that are more than deserving of a spotlight for all they do 365 days a year. During the holidays, the increased demand for food and distribution must be met by volunteers’ actions and generosity.
Alameda County Community Food Bank
7900 Edgewater Drive
Oakland, CA 94621
A member of Feeding America, this non-profit has been in business since 1985, with the mission of working toward the day when they can go out of business. In excess of 23 million pounds of food, more than half of it fresh fruit and vegetables, is shifted through AGGFB’s facility for distribution to needy individuals and families, amounting to one-in-five county residents. Aside from the traditional holiday barrel drive, supporters can get involved this holiday season via an online virtual food drive.
Alameda County Meals on Wheels
PO Box 14002
Oakland, CA 94614
Services for the aged ensures that home-bound participants receive a balanced diet, including four weekly hot meals brought right to their door. While some are able to meet the suggested $4 per meal, the difference must be met through donations so that over 2,200 meals can be delivered by volunteers every weekday. The non-profit suggests thinking of their essential service this way: $1,440 feeds a senior for a year, which compares to one day in the hospital. Drivers and donations are most welcome.
Berkeley Humane Society
2700 9th St.
Berkeley, CA 94710
For those who care deeply about kindness to animals, it’s comforting to know that Berkeley Humane “provides complete care for homeless animals, from rescue to rehabilitation to placement.” Providing care, services, food and shelter to animals since its beginnings in 1927, the society’s home suffered a major fire four years ago, yet managed to match 930 animals with loving homes in 2013. Donations to the non-profit are always welcome; a wish list is posted online to indicate the gifts most needed for dogs and cats waiting for a home, the most needed gift of all.
EMQ FamiliesFirst – Contra Costa County
2380 Salvio St., Suite 200
Concord, CA 94520
FamiliesFirst is a private non-profit that works closely with the state’s county services, ensuring that as many at-risk or in-crisis teens and kids as possible receive quality services, including family finding, foster care, adoption and more. Currently working with 18,000 children throughout 30 counties, the non-profit offers family-centered treatment. At holiday time, tax-deductible gift card donations are much appreciated and in high demand.
Catholic Charities of the East Bay Holiday Programs
433 Jefferson St.
Oakland, CA 94607
Operating in the East Bay since 1935, three programs of this non-profit, non-denominational charity focus on families at the holidays. Consider Project Joybells, which brings toys in the $20-$25 range to needy children at Christmas; Adopt-a-Family, which helps a local family do their Christmas shopping; and the Christmas Turkey Program, putting a holiday meal on the table for about 1,000 families since 1997.
Laurie Jo Miller Farr loves walkable cities. A tourism industry professional and transplanted New Yorker by way of half-a-lifetime in London, she’s writing about the best of the bay and beyond for Yahoo, USA Today, eHow, and on Examiner.com.