Nonprofit organizations are the givers, the ones who do year-round what some of us only remember to do during the holidays. And for the last four years, the TimeOut holiday wish list has given them the opportunity to ask for what they would want for themselves.
Last season local donations dropped off in California despite a national climate of giving, and organizations feared a tough holiday. But in several cases, readers came through. Of the 25 nonprofits we featured on Dec. 11, nearly half had their wishes fulfilled.
Some received big ticket items instead of smaller requests. People passed over electric space heaters in favor of a computer set-up and vacuum cleaner for Elder Abuse Prevention in Richmond. The Oakland Blind Center didn’t get its pots and pans — although its kitchen is now well-stocked with dishes and silverware — but did get a used large-screen television in great condition to play its training tapes.
The Tri-Valley Haven in Livermore got a new printer and received many offers of old sofas. The organization had asked for a new couch, but it all worked out perfectly when they could pass on the offers to clients who were moving into a new home.
At Ron Nunn Elementary School in Brentwood, the 40 teachers and staff members no longer fight over four microwaves in varying stages of disrepair; sympathetic locals donated six more. Paul Santiago, the site coordinator for the new Diablo Community Center at Mount Diablo High School, reported that staffers had to turn down offers of office furniture, since the center now has all it needs, but 100 binders that weren’t on their list were accepted. More importantly, the center received a tip about Industrial Surplus Foundation, an organization which provides surplus material to nonprofits. Through the foundation, the center acquired a few much-needed garbage cans.
A gift of a digital camera will record program highlights for the Contra Costa Jewish Community Center in Walnut Creek, which also received a cash donation.
Times readers tend to reserve a soft spot for animals. Cat litter, toys, animal carriers, monetary donations and other items flooded Pleasanton’s Valley Human Society and HALO (Homeless Animals’ Lifeline Organization) of Antioch. The Contra Costa County Guide Dog Raisers received 10 crates for kennels and, wrote co-leader Cindy Sevilla, “we got calls from people interested in joining our club!” She added that the listing itself was a gift: “I also wanted to say how much I enjoyed the way you wrote the little description about guide dog puppies. I have to admit that I am plagiarizing and using the description in my own correspondence with prospective raisers now. I hope you don’t mind!”
Not at all. We’d like to thank all the organizations for their work, and the readers who recognized the good work that they do. If you still have a clipping of that list, it’s never too late to give, whether it’s baby blankets to the East Bay chapter of Helping After Neonatal Death (888-908-HAND/4263; a coffee cart with wheels to the Concord Senior Citizens Club (925-671-3320); pillowcases and art supplies to the Art to Heart Foundation in Pleasanton (925-200-6116); or 150-watt mercury vapor lights with motion sensors to the Antioch locale of the Family Stress Center (925-827-0212, Ext. 124). Goodwill lasts all year.
Vera H-C Chan is the Times event editor. She can be reached at 925-977-8428 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cassandra Braun contributed to this story.