Community Notebook: Holiday giving ideas | News | Palo Alto Online |


Community Notebook: Holiday giving ideas

A guide for how and where to give and volunteer charitably in the Palo Alto area this holiday season

The season of giving is upon us, and local organizations around Palo Alto are prepared: From holiday dinners to toy drives, charitable groups are offering many ways to bring joy into someone else's life this season.

Christmas Bureau

The Christmas Bureau collects monetary donations and distributes checks to over 2,700 individuals who are Palo Alto residents or members of the Palo Alto Unified School District recommended by social service and public agencies, schools, churches, temples and other community agencies. Recipients can choose how they spend the funds. Donations can be made online or by checks made out to "Christmas Bureau of Palo Alto" that can be sent to Christmas Bureau of Palo Alto, P.O. Box 51874, Palo Alto, CA 94303.


Community Services Agency

Community Services Agency (CSA) offers social services for Mountain View, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills residents. Its Holiday Sharing Program is an annual gift distribution event for CSA client families on Dec. 14 and 15. During this event, parents visit CSA's conference room — which has been transformed into a magical toyland — to select gifts donated by community members while their children can enjoy refreshments, activities and a visit with Santa. CSA's food pantry is also open during the event. CSA is seeking donations of food and gifts cards (preferably from Target, Walmart and Amazon) as well as monetary donations. Volunteers are also welcome.

Information: or 650-968-0836, ext. 114

Ecumenical Hunger Program

Each holiday season, Ecumenical Hunger Program runs 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. Currently, the organization is short on Kraft Original Flavor Macaroni and Cheese, one of the more popular items.

Information: or 650-323-7781

Hope's Corner

Hope's Corner, a nonprofit that provides free breakfast and a bag lunch every Saturday and free showers to unhoused people, is seeking toiletries, warm clothing for men and women, and non-perishable food items through the holidays and beyond. Donations can be dropped off on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Saturdays from 8-10 a.m. at Trinity United Methodist, 748 Mercy St., Mountain View. They are also hosting a toy drive, asking for new toys to distribute to kids in need. Monetary donations that support the meal and shower programs can be made by check or online.

Information: or 650-254-1450

Kiwanis Christmas Tree lot

The Menlo Park Kiwanis Club Christmas Tree features fresh noble fir trees delivered weekly from Oregon, as well as wreaths and other holiday decorations. The Christmas tree lot serves as the largest fundraiser for the club, and donations support local community organizations, which include Special Games for physically challenged youth and St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room and scholarships for Menlo-Atherton High School graduates. The lot is located on the Stanford University campus at the corner of Embarcadero Road and El Camino Real. Hours are weekdays from noon-7 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m.-7 p.m.

Information: or 650-327-1313


There's no shortage of programs to get involved with this holiday season at LifeMoves. In addition to accepting financial donations year-round, the organization also offers an adopt-a-family program in which volunteers can shop for an individual or an entire family in need. They also accept volunteers willing to provide and serve meals at various LifeMoves locations throughout the Bay Area. Participants can even donate holiday dinner baskets or host their own gift drive for LifeMoves' clients.


Palo Alto Teen Advisory Board

The Teen Advisory Board (TAB) is a group of Palo Alto-based high school students focusing on ways to serve their community and encourage teen involvement. This holiday season, TAB is holding their own toy drive at several locations, accepting donations of new and unwrapped toys, books and other gifts though Thursday, Dec. 12:

• Courtyard by Marriott, 4320 El Camino Real, Los Altos.

• Cubberly Community Center at Junior Museum, 4050 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto.

• Hudson Pacific Properties, 1500 Page Mill Road, Palo Alto.

• Hudson Pacific Properties, 1801 Page Mill Road, Palo Alto.

• Hudson Pacific Properties, 1841 Page Mill Road, Palo Alto.

• Hudson Pacific Properties, 3000 El Camino Real, Buildings 2 & 5, Palo Alto.

• Hudson Pacific Properties, 4009 Miranda Ave., Palo Alto.

• Lucie Stern Community Center, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto.

• Mitchell Park Community Center, 3700 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto.

• Mitchell Park Library, 3700 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto.

• Orangetheory Fitness, 2190 W. Bayshore Road, Suite 150, Palo Alto.

• Palo Alto Art Center, 1313 Newell Road, Palo Alto.

• Palo Alto City Children's Library, 1276 Harriet St., Palo Alto.

• Palo Alto Fire Station 1, 201 Alma St., Palo Alto.

• Palo Alto Fire Station 2, 2675 Hanover St., Palo Alto.

• Palo Alto Fire Station 4, 3600 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto.

• Palo Alto Fire Station 5, 600 Arastradero Road, Palo Alto.

• Palo Alto Fire Station 6, 711 Serra St., Stanford.

• Rinconada Library, 1213 Newell Road, Palo Alto


Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund

The Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund collects monetary donations that will be granted to Midpeninsula nonprofit organizations serving a wide range of needy children, families, individuals and seniors. The Silicon Valley Community Foundation partners with the Weekly to manage the funds, none of which are used for overhead expenses, so 100% of donations go to local service groups. Since launching in 1993, the fund has raised and distributed more than $7 million to community nonprofits. This year's goal is to raise $400,000.

Information: or 650-463-4929

Ronald McDonald House

The Ronald McDonald House Charities provides Bay Area communities with several means of supporting ill children and their families, including play areas, laundry and fitness facilities, psychological support, access to medical care and more. As with every holiday season, the "Comfort & Joy" drive is accepting donations for holiday gifts through Dec. 20 as well as basic need items and household goods through Dec. 31. Both should be new and unwrapped with original tags and packaging. Stuffed animals cannot be accepted unless they are individually packaged. Volunteer groups are also needed for the year-round "MegaBites" program, which prepares food for families.


St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room

Along with its food, clothing distribution and health programs, St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room has several events and services for this holiday season. On Dec. 5, the dining room will provide free flu shots from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. On Christmas Eve, there will be the "Santa Claus and Children's Toy Giveaway" event, where children ages 14 and under can see Santa Claus and receive a gift. On Christmas Day, there will also be a turkey dinner from noon to 2:30 p.m.

Information: or 650-365-9664

Toys for Tots

Created in 1991 by the U.S. Marine Corps, the Toys for Tots Foundation serves the simple but crucial purpose of providing less fortunate children with new toys. Last year in Santa Clara County alone, the organization distributed 55,892 toys and supported 47,909 children. Donation boxes are available throughout Santa Clara County, and volunteers are welcome at various Toys for Tots events. New, unwrapped toys (with the exception of realistic toy weapons), books and stocking stuffers for children ages 14 and under are accepted. Donate at the following locations in Palo Alto:

• Carmel Stone Imports, 3160 W. Bayshore Road, Palo Alto. (Through Dec. 17.) 831-583-1011.

• CH Premier Jewelers, 180 El Camino Real, Suite 155, Palo Alto. (Through Dec. 17.) 650-223-0888.

• Foley and Lardner LLP, 975 Page Mill Road, Palo Alto. (Through Dec. 16.) 650-251-1197.

• Greenberg Construction (with NARI Silicon Valley), 904 Industrial Ave., Palo Alto. (Through Dec. 9.) 844-349-4411.

• Jan Strohecker, 1610 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto. 650-906-6516.

• Maxar, 3825 Fabian Way G-11, Palo Alto. (Through Dec. 17.) 408-726-2863.

• Palo Alto Dental Wellness, 2700 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto. (Through Dec. 17.) 650-322-7239.

• Palo Alto Medical Foundation, 795 El Camino Real, Palo Alto. (Through Dec. 17.) 650-853-5659.

• Pivotal, 3495 Deer Creek Road, Palo Alto. (Through Dec. 17.) 408-799-9922

• Premier Properties, 539 Alma St., Palo Alto. (Through Dec. 18.) 650-618-3000.

• PsiQuantum, 700 Hansen Way, Palo Alto. (Through Dec. 16.) 650-427-0904.

• WilmerHale, 950 Page Mill Road, Palo Alto. (Through Dec. 17.) 650-858-6163.



The Palo Alto and Menlo Park divisions of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs are in need of hygiene items, paperback books and new clothing, especially socks and underwear, to disburse among local veterans this holiday season and beyond. Monetary donations are used to meet veteran's needs, such as temporary lodging and patient care, and can be made online at To find out what items are most needed and how to make a donation, contact the volunteer services department at 650-858-3903.

Information: or 650-858-3903

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 Editorial Assistant Lloyd Lee at


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Like this comment
Posted by Magen
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 19, 2019 at 10:36 am

Does anyone know of an organization seeking adult volunteers for Christmas? Thanks so much

Magen 650 493 6630

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