Redwood Empire Food Bank
The food bank helps people throughout the year. You can help by volunteering, collecting food and donating money.
“Just begin,” said Executive Director David Goodman. “We ask you to do all three. Each helps in different ways, and they’re all critical and appreciated.”
Coordinate a food drive at your place of business, church, book club, gym or in your neighborhood
Contribute nutritious food high in protein, items people can use to build a meal around. Examples are canned chicken, salmon and tuna, canned chili and hearty soups. Canned vegetables and fruits, rice, pasta and canned sauces, cereals and protein bars also are appreciated.
Remember the children. Don’t forget to toss in special treats such as bagged nuts, granola bars and dried fruit
For more information or to volunteer, contact the Redwood Empire Food Bank at 707-523-7900 or go to refb.org.
Redwood Gospel Mission
This agency expects to serve more than 30,000 meals to those who have nowhere else to go during its Three Days of Christmas celebration (Dec. 23, 24 and 25).
“(These people) experience a poverty of loving relationships and people who care. We serve hundreds and hundreds of people, and it’s a great opportunity to care for people,” said Executive Director Jeff Gilman.
Each guest at the Redwood Gospel Mission Christmas celebration will receive a “Blessing Bag” along with a coat and hat when needed.
Volunteer to serve meals
Donate gently used coats
Coordinate a drive to collect underwear and socks
A donation of $1.79 pays for one holiday meal with turkey and ham, dressing, mashed potatoes with gravy, vegetables, a roll, a generous slice of pumpkin pie and a drink. A donation of $26.85 provides 15 meals; $53.70 provides 30 meals; and $107.40 provides 60 meals.
For more information or to make a donation online, go to srmission.org.
It’s a holiday tradition for the Salvation Army to raise money with Christmas Kettles. And this year, the organization also is partnering with Toys for Tots.
“We’re anticipating between 1,300 and 1,500 families in need of food and toys,” said Salvation Army Capt. Dan Whipple. “The best way to volunteer is to ring bells (for the Christmas kettles) or pack toys.”
The Salvation Army also prepares Christmas dinner boxes and toys for families in need, along with Christmas meals for seniors.
Kettle donations are used to pay for the Salvation Army’s Christmas operation and to support the agency’s work throughout the year, such as tutoring and mentoring children in Sonoma County schools, supporting the gang prevention program and providing a transitional program for people coming out of drug/alcohol addiction programs.
Donations can be made in person at the Salvation Army, 93 Stony Circle in Santa Rosa. Toys also can be dropped at the Angel Tree at Coddingtown Mall. To volunteer, go to santarosa.salvationarmy.org.
Social Advocates for Youth
Each night, 663 homeless youth are living outside in Sonoma County. During the holiday season, the street outreach team from Social Advocates for Youth is in urgent need of gifts for those youth. They also welcome new tarps and sleeping bags as well as gift cards, preferably from Target and Big 5.
SAY provides support, opportunities and hope to children, youth and their families. They also provide short- and long-term housing and counseling for youth and their families during challenging times. Donations can be dropped off at the SAY Coffee House Teen Shelter, 1243 Ripley St. in Santa Rosa.
Other items on SAY’s wish list include:
Items for first-home care packages, such as laundry baskets, dishes, bedding and kitchenware
Items for career-ready backpacks, such as pencils, pens, notebooks and calculators
To access the full wish list, go to saysc.org/wishlist. Questions? Call 707-800-3967.
Committee on the Shelterless
The Committee on the Shelterless in Petaluma, more commonly known as COTS, has one clear mission: to empower homeless families and adults to rebuild their lives and find housing.
Here’s how you can help this holiday season:
Adopt a family for the holidays. Each family member fills out a “wish list” with three wishes, each in the $40-50 range. Sponsor one, two or all three wishes on each family member’s list.
Adopt a household and help COTS members who are transitioning into a shared household for eight to 10 people. Because these clients are back on track with jobs and income, they welcome group gifts such as vouchers for holiday meals they can enjoy together, new dishes for the kitchen and cleaning products.
Adopt a program and provide items that are needed. The Outreach program needs adult sleeping bags, socks and wet weather gear; the Children’s program welcomes volunteers to help plant a garden. The Petaluma Kitchen is in need of pots, pans and chef’s knives.
Donation drives help all COTS members. Collecting items such as winter pajamas for the children or flash drives for children and adults is a huge help. Teenagers are often overlooked, so fun, inexpensive gifts are desperately needed for them.
For more information, call COTS at 707-968-7353, or write to Elf@cots-homeless.org. The Holiday Donation Center is at 1301 Redwood Way, Suite 190, Petaluma. Call for donation drop-off times.
Council on Aging
The Council on Aging relies on a network of services to connect Sonoma County seniors, offering support during the holiday season. Friends, families and fellow seniors join together to deliver meals, assist with financial and legal planning, and support better aging.
How can you help this holiday season?
Volunteer drivers are needed for the Meals on Wheels program and to deliver Secret Santa gifts to the congregate dining sites.
Cash donations are also welcome. Every gift of $3 provides a home-delivered meal to an isolated senior.
For more information, go to councilonaging.com or call Michele Leonard, director of volunteer services at 707-525-0143, ext. 147.
La Luz Center
La Luz is dedicated to helping immigrants succeed in the Sonoma Valley. Last year it served 5,000 people. The nonprofit organization provides English language training and financial and support services, teaches computer skills, distributes food, hosts medical services and more.
“The staff at La Luz Center does a great job of pulling together all the programs for the holidays in Sonoma Valley,” Executive Director Juan Hernandez said.
To make a donation to help those in need, go to laluzcenter.org.
Catholic Charities serves more than half of all the people who are homeless in Sonoma County. They also offer assistance to immigrants, children and seniors.
“As in the parable about giving a man a fish, we are not just giving our clients a fish for a day, we are teaching them to fish,” said Executive Director Len Marabella. “We try to meet their most immediate and basic needs, and then take it a step further to help free them from the cycle of poverty.”
Here’s how you can help:
Donate a turkey. The average age of a person living at a Family Support Center emergency shelter is 12. Donating a turkey ensures that the families enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving Day dinner.
Donate clothing. For every homeless child housed at Catholic Charities, four more are on the waiting list. You can help those on the waiting list by donating gently used (or new) jackets and winter clothing.
Offer meal assistance. If you love to cook or work with food, volunteers are needed from 7-10 p.m. nightly to provide food donations, cook, deliver and serve meals at the Sam Jones Winter Shelter.
Volunteer your language skills. It can take more than 20 years to become a U.S. citizen. Bilingual volunteer office assistants are needed in Catholic Charities immigration department.
Volunteer to assist seniors. There are more than 80,000 seniors in Sonoma County. Volunteers are needed to make calls for the “I’m Home Alone” program to connect with seniors who are home alone and help them combat loneliness and depression. Last year, volunteers made more than 35,000 calls.
Become a mentor. Clients moving out of shelters into housing of their own need guidance during the transition. Volunteer in the office.
Tax preparers and front desk receptionists are needed for the Earn it! Keep it! Save it! Program; financial understanding is critically important for those with low income.
For more information, call Noreen Mendoza at 707-528-8712, ext. 160, or email email@example.com. Donation drop-offs can be made at the Family Support Center at 465 A St. in Santa Rosa.
Valley of the Moon Children’s Foundation
More than 400 children and teens in foster care each year need basic items and holiday cheer. Those who arrive at the Valley of the Moon Children’s Home emergency shelter often have only the clothes they’re wearing, according to Meg Easter-Dawson, program development manager at Family Youth and Children’s Services. You can help with the following donations:
Essential items such as baby clothes and teethers, pajamas, sweatshirts, shampoos and conditioners, backpacks and suitcases
Toys and gift cards help brighten the holiday season. Kids are in need of coloring books, games, art supplies and jewelry-making kits. Gift cards are welcome from Target, Wal-Mart and local restaurants
Donations can be arranged by calling 707-565-4348. You also can make a cash donation to help children and foster families through the nonprofit Valley of the Moon Children’s Foundation by going to vomcf.org or by calling 707-565-8380. Donations also are welcome at the Redwood Empire Foster Parent Association to help fund educational and recreational needs for foster youth, such as sports uniforms, camp, music lessons and prom expenses.
Sonoma County Human Services Department
The Sonoma County Human Services Department has various needs this holiday season. Here are a few ways you can help:
Secret Santa Red Heart Ornaments. Nearly 500 Adult and Aging Services clients and their families need gifts; access their requests on Red Heart Ornament Trees throughout the county. Select a heart from a tree, then purchase a gift that will be wrapped and delivered. Find a tree near you at secretsantanow.org.
Or, to make an online donation, you can purchase a Secret Santa gift at fundlyenterprise.com.
Secret Santa Letters. Adult and Aging Services has 15 clients with significant holiday needs. These requests will be part of KZST radio’s Secret Santa Program. KZST will read as many letters as possible and listeners can donate. You can read these letters at kzst.com/santa/santaletters.php. Call 707-528-4434 for details.
Lions Club Meal Delivery. The Lions Club is serving meals for seniors at the Santa Rosa Veteran’s building and through its home-delivery meal program through the end of the year. Volunteers are needed to deliver meals. To sign up, go to lionsxmas.org.