Community Notebook: Holiday Giving | News | Palo Alto Online |


Community Notebook: Holiday Giving

A look at where to volunteer, donate

A number of local organizations are working to make this holiday season brighter for those in need, and they depend on donations and volunteers from the community to make it all possible. Read on for ways to turn your time and treasure into seasonal cheer.

Christmas Bureau | Palo Alto

For the past 60 years, the Christmas Bureau of Palo Alto has collected small checks during the holidays to distribute to families and individuals living at or below the poverty line in Palo Alto and the Palo Alto Unified School District. Since its inception, the Christmas Bureau has provided a way for residents to discreetly help families, seniors and others in financial need who live in surrounding neighborhoods by quietly collecting donations and distributing checks each December to those referred to the non-sectarian nonprofit by social services agencies, schools, churches, temples and other community agencies. There are no turkeys, toys or canned goods involved -- just a handwritten check that residents can spend on whatever they need. Last year, the nonprofit distributed checks to nearly 3,000 recipients.


Community Services Agency | Mountain View

Community Services Agency (CSA) provides social services for residents of Mountain View, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills. This season is a very busy time, and families need a little extra help making the holiday special. CSA is seeking food donations, gifts for teens, gift cards or monetary donations. The nonprofit also is looking for pantry volunteers to receive, sort and organize food donations; gift-donation organizers to conduct inventory and sort donated gifts; and gift-distribution volunteers to help clients select gifts, restock the gift store and receive and inventory all incoming donations.

Information:, LaDrea Clark at or 650-968-0836, ext. 150.

Ecumenical Hunger Program | East Palo Alto

Every holiday season, Ecumenical Hunger Program provides low-income families in East Palo, Palo Alto, Menlo Park and surrounding communities with gifts and food through three special programs: The Family Sharing Program, which matches donors with families with special needs; The Teen Gifts Program, which provides gifts to local teens who are often overlooked (the majority play a caretaker role in their families, looking after younger siblings, filling in for working parents who cannot afford child care); and the Holiday Box Distribution program, which distributes food boxes including everything that a family might need to make Christmas dinner with plenty of leftovers for the following week. The organization is in need of gift cards from Target, Best Buy and Amazon for families. Amazon customers can support the nonprofit by shopping through its AmazonSmile link, which will donate a half-percent of eligible purchases to EHP.

Information: or email

Family Giving Tree | Palo Alto

The Palo Alto Family YMCA is collecting gifts for Family Giving Tree, an organization that provides presents for children and adults in need. The gifts will be collected until Dec. 10. The giving tree, which includes gift requests from individuals, will be displayed in the YMCA lobby at 3412 Ross Road, Palo Alto. Those interested in donating can take one or more requests, purchase the gift and return it unwrapped to the YMCA, with the request card attached. All gifts will be delivered to the the Family Giving Tree on Dec. 11.

Information: 650-856-9622 or Palo Alto YMCA.

Hope's Corner | Mountain View

Hope's Corner, a nonprofit that provides free breakfast and a bag lunch every Saturday and free showers to unhoused people, is seeking new, unwrapped gifts for children ages 1-18 and $20-25 gift cards for teenagers through Dec. 15. Drop offs can be made Dec. 13-15, from 3-5 p.m., at the Los Altos United Methodist Church parking lot (655 Magdalena Ave., Los Altos) and on Dec. 15, from 9-11 a.m. at Trinity United Methodist, 748 Mercy St., Mountain View. The gifts will be selected by parents for their children at the annual Hope's Corner Children's Christmas Party on Dec. 16.

Information: or 650-254-1450.

Junior League Gift Drive for North Bay Wildfire Victims | Palo Alto

The Junior League of Palo Alto-Mid Peninsula is teaming up with the Junior League of Napa-Sonoma for a children's gift drive to benefit victims of the North Bay Wildfire. New holiday gifts for children in kindergarten through Grade 6 will be collected on Saturday, Dec. 2, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Historic Gatehouse, 555 Ravenswood Ave., Menlo Park.

Donations will benefit the 408 students of Abraham Lincoln Elementary School in

Santa Rosa. Wish list items include puzzles, books, Legos and any other age-appropriate gifts. The Junior League wishes for all gifts to be wrapped and labeled with age range and gender if applicable, but unwrapped gifts and gift cards also are appreciated.

Information: The Junior League

LifeMoves | Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Redwood City

LifeMoves combats homelessness through modern housing and intensive supportive services, including teaching comprehensive life skills. The nonprofit is running a variety of holiday programs. Through Adopt-a-Household, every client at LifeMoves will receive two holiday-gift wishes. The organization is seeking people to purchase the specific gifts asked for by a family or by just one family member. A drop-off time and location will be assigned to those who sign up. The Holiday Dinner Basket program ensures that every homeless family will be able to enjoy a holiday meal together; donations of dinner baskets are needed (drop-off dates are Nov. 20-21 and Dec. 18-19). Through the Holiday Meal program, volunteers prepare and serve a holiday meal at a LifeMoves site.

Information: or contact the volunteer coordinator at or 650-685-5880, ext. 180.

Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund | Palo Alto

The Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund makes an impact on thousands of people's lives each year by raising money that supports programs serving families and children in need in the Palo Alto area. Over the past 25 years, the annual charitable giving campaign, managed by the Weekly and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, has distributed more than $6 million to local nonprofits. None of the donated funds are used for overhead expenses. This year's goal is to raise $350,000.


Toys for Tots | Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, San Jose

The U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program collects new, unwrapped toys to distribute as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children. The organization's local chapter can use volunteers to help sort, count and prepare toys at its San Jose warehouse; pick up donation boxes throughout Santa Clara County; and help at any of the numerous Toys for Tots events. Residents can also donate new and unwrapped toys at the following locations in Palo Alto through Dec. 18:

• Nordstrom, Stanford Shopping Center, 550 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto.

• The Marc, Palo Alto, 501 Forest Ave., Palo Alto (through Dec. 15).

• Supercuts, 2190 W. Bayshore Road, Suite 170, Palo Alto.

• Alex and Ani, 180 El Camino Real, Space #206B, Palo Alto.

• Premier Property Management, 539 Alma St., Palo Alto.

• WilmerHale, 950 Page Mill Road, Palo Alto.

Information: Toys for Tots Volunteer Coordinator Sgt. Jeremy Tapp at 669-223-1859.

Veterans | Palo Alto, Menlo Park

The Palo Alto and Menlo Park divisions of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs are in need of new socks, underwear, sweats and blankets to distribute to local veterans through the holidays and beyond. Donations can be dropped off in Palo Alto in front of the main building at 3801 Miranda Drive or in Menlo Park at 795 Willow Road, Bldg. 334.

Information: VA Palo Alto .

Kiwanis Christmas tree lot | Stanford

The Menlo Park Kiwanis Club Christmas tree lot will be open from Friday, Nov. 24 until Christmas (except for Saturday, Nov. 25). The lot will have Noble Fir trees delivered fresh from Oregon weekly, as well as wreaths and other holiday decorations. The Kiwanis Christmas tree lot serves as the biggest fundraiser for the Club, which uses donations collected throughout the year to make charitable contributions to local community organizations, including scholarships for Menlo-Atherton High School graduates. The lot is located on the Stanford Campus on the corner of Embarcadero Road and El Camino Real. Hours are 2-8 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m.-8 p.m. weekends.

Information: Kiwanis Club.

If your 501(c)(3) organization is in need of volunteers and donations for holiday events and would like to be listed in this article, contact Associate Editor Linda Taaffe at


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Like this comment
Posted by Palo Alto Family YMCA
a resident of Palo Verde School
on Nov 22, 2017 at 2:50 pm

From the Palo Alto Family YMCA, 3412 Ross Road, PA. We will have our Giving Tree up soon, and we welcome the community to come by Y, pick up a tag and return a gift to the Y no later than December 10. We will deliver these gifts to the Family Giving Tree in the morning on December 11.

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