Last Push For Holiday Cheer

Santa reports that his Oakland Toy Drive needs a last-minute boost, because he doesn’t have enough toys to deliver next week!  We can help Santa spread more good cheer to needy Oakland kids, by donating new toys or money in the next few days.

Here’s the grim news from Santa’s accountant.  Only 10,000 toys have been donated so far, and another 5,000 are needed to reach last year’s level.  Plus the current dollar donations are $6,000 versus $26,000 last year.  Don’t you think you can help, even a little bit?

There are several drop-off points.  In the hills, unwrapped toys are accepted at Chabot Space & Science Center as well as the Oakland Zoo.  With just a few days left before Xmas, it might be best to make drop-offs down at City Hall – Santa’s central collection and pick-up point.

Or donate money instead. If you are crunched for time, then Santa’s elves will buy toys on your behalf.  Please call 510-777-TOYS and donate some of your hard-earned shekels.  Ho-ho-ho and many thanks.

P.S.  On a related holiday note, our Blogoaksphere’s Holiday Food Drive has succeeded.  While the $1,000 goal was relatively modest (compared to Santa’s toy drive), we’ve exceeded $2,000 as of tonight’s tally.

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Helping The Hungry, This Holiday

This time of year, it can get absurdly confusing to pick your good causes.  Should you give away food, clothes or money?  Do you give in a reactive manner, by running into folks around town?  Or do you shop around, trying to decide what charities might catch your fancy?

Last year, our posting about charity drop-offs was one of the top traffic-getters at Today in Montclair.  That gives us plenty of hope, since you were clearly interested in helping needy Oaklanders.

This week, Oakland bloggers came together in the “blogoaksphere” to help Alameda County’s Community Food Bank.  You may now donate food morsels with a mouse click or two, which seems much easier than buying goods and dropping them off.

Our local Food Bank benefits when they buy food directly – and claim to “stretch $1 in donations into $7 worth of distributed food.”  Plus there’s no need for the Food Bank to sort through food donations, so they conserve on sweat equity too.

Try clicking the cute red buttons above, or in the right-hand navigation.  Then start shopping for virtual groceries and donate money directly.  We decided to “buy” some peanut butter for the Food Bank, and it only took a few minutes…for this good cause.

Charity Drop-Offs In The Village

We were recently asked about charity drop-offs in the Village, and searched around for different holiday appeals.  Here’s a list of organizations now asking for food, clothing and toys.  It’s easy to donate essentials and gifts, and make a difference.

Gift For You

Food: Let’s start with the most urgent request for food, from the Alameda Food Bank.  Their stocks are low this year, and the group wants to collect 750,000 pounds over the holidays.  You just donate food in the red and black bins at Lucky’s and Safeway.  Better yet, the Food Bank also accepts financial donations online.

Letters: For kids, you can play Santa in a few different ways.  The best idea comes from the Oakland Post Office, which receives letters kids write to Santa and needs assistance with the mail.  They are looking for helpers willing to respond to these letters directly, or as Santa via the North Pole.  While not required, you’re free to send gifts as well.

The Oakland Tribune described how to get kids letters:  (1) call the Santa Hotline at 510-251-3371 and leave your name, address and phone number;  (2) await a form sent to you; (3) visit the local post office with your completed form and a photo ID; and (4) await letter or letters from kids.  Then it’s up to you to write back to the kids, and show them you care.

Toys: Give to Oakland kids through the 28th Annual Oakland Toy Drive.  According to A Better Oakland, checks may be sent to: United Way of the Bay Area, Oakland Toy Drive, Attention: Cashier’s Office, 221 Main Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, CA 94105.

Alternatively, you can donate actual toys to Alameda County kids through the Toys For Tots.  Just drop toys into the local bin at at Wells & Bennett, off Park Blvd (1451 Leimert Blvd, Map).  Or send checks to: Toys For Tots, Alameda County, United States Marine Corps Reserve, 2144 Clement Ave, Alameda, CA 94501.

Clothes: As the chill sets in, provide some warmth for kids.  East Bay Sotheby’s is collecting winter coats for Oakland kids, and then distributing them via the Lincoln and Fred Finch Centers.  So look at what your kids have outgrown, and drop your coats at Sotheby’s (1986 Mountain Blvd, Map).

Also consider helping new mothers, who need support caring for their newborns.  Loved Twice,  run by Montclarion Lisa Klein, delivers baby essentials to moms through local hospitals.  They welcome donations of used infant clothing at Cool Tops Cuts for Kids (in Oakland or Lafayette).

Any other charity ideas this holiday season?  Please share them here.