12 Ways to Give-Back to the Local Community this Season

In a season when many of us are focused on seasonal events, shopping and gift giving, the holiday season is a good time to take a minute to think about others less fortunate. After all, true holiday cheer comes from kindness. When you share small acts of kindness, you are giving back more than you might think. Discover 12 local ways to give back this holiday season and help make a difference in someone’s life.

Collect Canned Food. This year, head to the library! Any one of San Mateo Counties 12 branches is accepting food for fines! The Second Harvest Food Bank looks for nonperishable foods, i.e. peanut butter, tuna fish, canned vegetables and soups, pasta and cereal. The library is partnering with the Second Harvest Food Bank of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties to make sure that all of the donated food will be adequately given out. This is one of the largest food banks in the nation and provides food to an average of more than 257,000 people each month here in Silicon Valley! This year’s program began on Thursday, November 1st and runs through December 31.

Host a Giving Tree or Fulfill a Wish. A Toy, Coat or Gift Giving Tree is an easy way to give during the Holidays. Pick up a wish tag at a participating Wells Fargo Bank location in the South and East Bay, fulfill a wish online at www.familygivingtree.org/donate  or call 408-946-3111 to make a contribution. There are more than 2,000 children as well as teens and adults who depend on Samaritan House for their holiday gifts.

Support a Specific Local Cause. Peninsula Healthcare Connection is a state licensed medical clinic holistically serving homeless and low-income individuals in North Santa Clara County. PHC provides integrated primary, preventative, and mental health care free of charge to community members who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Financial donations are greatly appreciated this holiday season. Your gift ensures PHC can continue to provide these services year-round. For more information, please contact Eileen Richardson at Eileen@peninsulahcc.org; website peninsulahcc.org.

Give a Gift. Donate your gently used winter hats, gloves, thick socks, coats and warm blankets to women’s and homeless shelters. One Warm Coat has drop-off centers around the region. Or make a child’s holiday brighter with a toy. The U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program collects new, unwrapped toys and distributes to less fortunate children. Watch for the bins around San Mateo County.

Help Local Foster Kids. Search collection drives at Mattress Firm that provide foster children with the little things that often make a big difference including new pajamas and a gift that will bring joy or comfort.

Visit Children’s Hospitals. Donated new toys, books, stuffed animals, craft materials, and other items can help comfort and entertain children during their hospital experience. Find local opportunities near you.

Donate Blood. Give more than thanks this season. Blood Centers of the Pacific has drives all year-round. Discover a location near you. Make a difference and help save a life by donating blood. Visit the American Red Cross for local Blood Drives.

Don’t Forget Local Seniors. Many of the seniors at the assisted living or health care facilities don’t get many visitors and love to have people come and spend time with them. Be a Santa to a Senior this year, click here to find opportunities near you! Organize a children’s choir, bring a book or a deck of cards and brighten someone’s day. Contact your local Senior Housing Communities to find out their specific needs. Additionally, services such as Live Oak Adult Day Care offer caregivers support and relief so that the caregiver can go to work, finish errands and other daily tasks while knowing that their loved one is well tended in a caring environment. Their program is in need of soft, warm items like socks, sweaters, sweats, hoods, gloves, scarves as well as nutritious, non-perishable foods including, tuna, peanut butter, low-sugar snacks or grocery gift cards. To donate call 408-971-9363 or email liveoakdaycare@att.net.

Host a Box Party. HandsOn Bay Area makes volunteering with your coworkers, friends or family easy with Project in a Box. You’ll receive a box with all necessary supplies and instructional materials included as well as a pre-paid shipping label and second box to mail the finished project to the benefiting charity, after the project is complete.

Rebuilding Together Peninsula: This organization transforms lives by providing critical repairs, accessibility modifications and energy efficient upgrades to low-income homes and community centers at no cost to service recipients in San Mateo County and northern Santa Clara County. Over the next year, it will serve 130 homeowners through the year-round Safe at Home minor home repair program, 40-50 homeowners and 20-30 community facilities through its National Rebuilding Day program in the Spring, and another 8-10 homeowners and community facilities through its Summer/Fall Team Build program. To donate or volunteer, contact 650-366-6597, website www.rebuildingtogetherpeninsula.org.

Volunteer. Sign up to help at Second Harvest Food Bank. Bring your kids to teach them the value and reward of giving back to those less fortunate. If you’re unable to make a volunteer commitment this season, thank those who can. Send a thank you letter to shelter volunteers, make sure those ringing holiday bells stay warm with gloves, hats and coffee or hot cocoa. You can also spend a little time in the kitchen baking cookies for First Responders, Police and Firefighters and drop them off with a thank you note.

Send a Note. Write a letter to friend or loved one. Expressing how you feel and how much they mean to you is the perfect holiday gift. Also, when you’re out and about this season, small acts of kindness can make a world of difference. Smile, say thank you, and let someone go in front of you in line.

There are many more ways to make a difference this season and throughout the year, these are just a few ideas to spark your holiday cheer and kindness creativity. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from Bay Meadows!

Walkscore.com rates Bay Meadows high on the list for walkable locations to live on the San Francisco Peninsula and for good reason! Why? Because we are steps from shopping (Hillsdale Center), groceries (Whole Foods), parks, a farmer’s market and an easy bike-ride from downtown San Mateo with its burgeoning restaurant scene. San Mateo’s shared Bay Bikes are on-site, so no need to own your own. And Caltrain is a quick stroll from anywhere in the neighborhood. Learn all about connecting the dots for your many transportation options with Connect San Mateo.