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Charitable Giving Close To Home
By Dodie Hamblen
If you think the holiday season is marred by greed and commercialism, you will be heartened to learn that many neighborhood schools, churches, and merchants sponsor programs in November and December to benefit those in need. Here's a rundown of who does what for whom, and how you can help.
Neighborhood public schools will participate again this year in the San Francisco Unified School District's Thanksgiving Food Drive. Last year about 250 pounds of food were collected at Alvarado School alone. The food goes to the San Francisco Food Bank, a nonprofit agency that in turn distributes it to 200 churches and social service groups.
"Our members include Glide Memorial, Project Open Hand, Hamilton House, daycare and senior centers, and homeless and runaway shelters throughout the city," says marketing manager Ron Clark. "We ask for high-quality canned and packaged food, tuna, peanut butter, 100-percent fruit juices, and pasta."
Clark, whose son Austin attends Alvarado School on Douglass Street, feels the food drive "teaches children about giving back to the community, and why there is poverty." Food collection barrels will be available at the local public schools, including Edison, Alvarado, and James Lick, from Nov. 10 to 26.
Once again the Wooden Heel shoe repair shop on 24th Street near Castro will sponsor its Shoes for the Shoeless campaign. Last year the store collected 1,340 pairs of shoes, boots, and slippers, for men, women, and children. The idea is for people to bring in their old shoes, so that the shop can repair them for distribution to the needy, but store owner Patti Wood says, "The amazing thing is how many people bring in brand new shoes that have never been worn."
Wood is not sure which group or organization will receive the shoes this year. "We'll send them where they are most needed. Last year they went to the
Roseville flood victims," she said. Collection begins the day after Thanksgiving and runs through the end of December.
Natural Resources, near the corner of 24th and Castro, collects maternity clothing, baby clothes, and equipment for the Homeless Prenatal Program, an organization that provides shelter, prenatal care, and substance abuse programs to nearly 600 pregnant homeless women. Natural Resources co-owner Nathalie Kelly says, "We take donations throughout the year, not just around the holidays," and encourages people to bring in new or used items for donation anytime.
Beginning Dec. 1, Zephyr Real Estate will collect toys for the San Francisco Fire Department's annual Toys for Tots drive. The firm also collects canned goods for Project Open Hand. "This is something we do every year," says Zephyr's Ilse Cordoni, managing broker of the 24th Street office (near Sanchez).
People who would like to donate to Project Open Hand, the nationally acclaimed organization that provides meals to people with AIDS, should bring in good-quality canned goods such as tuna, chicken, beans, or peas.
The Fire Department asks that all children's toys be new, in their original package, and not gift-wrapped.
St. Paul's Church, at Church and Valley streets, has been collecting food for its annual Neighbors in Need drive since the middle of October. The food will be used to make Thanksgiving baskets, featuring turkey and all the trimmings, for families in need.
"Most of the families live in the Mission District," says pastoral associate Mary Tam. The church will accept food until Thanksgiving, and would also appreciate donations of money to purchase turkeys. The baskets will be distributed during Thanksgiving week, Nov. 23 to 29.
St. Paul's also hosts a Giving Tree during December. "People pick a paper ornament with an age printed on it and buy an appropriate gift for someone that age," says Tam. The ages range from children to seniors. The gifts for seniors will be distributed by the church to shut-ins and senior centers. The children's toys will be distributed by Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity to the 300 to 400 children who attend the nuns' annual christmas party in the Mission.
B.J. Droubi and Company coordinates many charitable activities during the holiday season. In November the 24th Street firm collects funds to provide Thanksgiving dinner for two needy families. But the realtors' biggest holiday outreach takes place in December.
"We adopt two families, one from Family Service Agency and one from Raphael House. The families send us a wish list and we go shopping for them," says real estate agent Carol Bee.
She explains that the Family Service Agency of San Francisco, one of the largest nonprofits in the Bay Area, provides childcare, employment training, and mental health programs to low-income families. Raphael House offers housing and rehabilitation to women who have been abused. The adopted families are usually single parents with two or three children, and in addition to providing Christmas gifts of toys and clothing, the realty company donates food for all meals on Christmas Day.
Also, throughout the month of December, B.J. Droubi has a collection barrel for nonperishable food donations to the San Francisco Food Bank, plus a collection bin for clothing and household items for Raphael House.
Holiness Temple in Christ, the Pentecostal church at 28th and Church streets, has expanded its food giveaway program to two days a week during November and December. The church will hand out cartons of groceries on Wednesdays and Saturdays from noon to 2 p.m. Pastor Joesiah Bell says the food is available to any needy person who comes by during distribution hours. Groceries also will be delivered to neighborhood residents who are housebound. Those who'd like to lend a hand should call 642-0302.
It's clear there are lots of outlets for giving to the hungry or homeless during the holidays. But donations and volunteers are also appreciated at other times during the year. To find out more about what the nonprofits need -- and when they need it -- please call them directly. Here are a few numbers:
Family Service Agency: 474-7310
Glide Memorial Church: 771-6300
Homeless Prenatal Progam: 546-6756
Project Open Hand: 447-2415
Raphael House: 474-4621
San Francisco Food Bank: 282-1900