Ways to Give and Serve on the Peninsula This Holiday Season


The holiday season is a time many of us pause to count our blessings and think of ways to express our gratitude. It’s also a time we reach out to help those in need, often through gifting and serving. If you are looking for local places in need this winter, check out the list below. The mission statements are quoted from each organization’s website, so you can quickly decide which ones are the right fit for your family. 

San Mateo

St. Vincent De Paul of San Mateo: SVdP provides basic survival necessities, including food, clothing and other survival necessities for the homeless and the precariously housed. Each year we serve over 100,000 meals to our homeless brothers and sisters at SVdP’s Homeless Help Centers and also provide food, clothing and rent assistance to the precariously housed through SVdP’s Peninsula Family Resource Center. Last year, SVdP assisted 28,000 distinct individuals in San Mateo County, among them 11,000 children. Donate Now.

The Volunteer Center: A pioneer in the field of volunteerism, The Volunteer Center connects individuals, nonprofits and businesses with opportunities and resources needed to support local communities. Today, The Volunteer Center works closely with agencies to provide thousands of opportunities for volunteers of all ages. We offer a wide range of resources, consulting and training services, and provide a strong network for organizations in the area. We are here to strengthen and improve local communities through these main channels. Donate here.

San Carlos

Second Harvest Food Bank (Serves San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties): We provide food to people in their neighborhoods, where they live, learn, work and play. Also, 95% of every dollar donated goes directly toward programs that feed hungry people. Donate now.

Redwood City

Generations United & Redwood City Reads: Our mission is to empower the Hispanic community by providing avenues for community organizations and caring adults to participate in activities that promote family literacy, family advocacy, and projects that serve Hispanic families of Redwood City. Donate now.

Rebuilding Together: Since 1989, Rebuilding Together Peninsula (RTP) has provided renovation and repair services for the Peninsula’s most vulnerable homeowners—seniors, veterans, persons with disabilities, and families with children and community facilities. As the only local organization addressing this particular need, we have built the expertise and infrastructure to tackle critical home repairs, securing safe and healthy housing for those most in need. Today, Rebuilding Together Peninsula serves approximately 250 homeowners each year with the help of over 3,000 volunteers. 

Menlo Park

St Anthony’s Padua Dining Room (Menlo Park): St. Anthony’s Padua Dining Room provides hot, nutritious meals fifty-two weeks a year.  It charges no fees, asks no questions and turns no one away.  On a similar basis, the Clothing Distribution Center provides the basic apparel needs of women, children and men two days per week.  All clients being served a meal, provided with apparel or receiving health care advice are treated with dignity and respect and received in a spirit of hospitality. Make a donation here.

Palo Alto

Jewish Family and Children’s Services: Founded in 1850, the JFCS is one of the largest and oldest family services agencies in the U.S., currently serving over 75,000 people in need per year. Help brighten the holidays of JFCS clients and community members who otherwise would not be able to observe Hanukkah and other holidays due to frailty, disability, economic hardship, and other challenges in their lives. Volunteer with your children to assemble and deliver Hanukkah treat bags at one of JFCS’ five locations in the Bay Area. Give now.

Ecumenical Hunger Program provides low-income families in East Palo Alto and surrounding communities with food and gifts every holiday season. EHP has several donation programs during the holidays and needs volunteers ages 12 and up to work shifts at their East Palo Alto facility for Christmas Distribution. Donate now.


Family Giving Tree: Since 1990, Family Giving Tree has fulfilled gift wishes for over one million Bay Area children from low-income households, holding firm the belief that no child should feel forgotten during the holidays. In 2014 alone, Family Giving Tree fulfilled 71,600 holiday wishes. Volunteers are needed for various shifts at the Holiday Wish Drive warehouse (location announced each holiday season). Every gift donated goes to a child or individual from a low-resourced community. Donate Now.


Samaritans Purse– Operation Christmas Child: Create a shoebox of toys and basic hygiene items to be shipped locally or around the globe. Don’t have time to build your own box? You can pay for one here and the organization will make it for you, and provide tracking so you can see where your box ends up.

What’s your favorite way to give this season?

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Meredith is a transplant to the Bay Area and has fallen in love with the weather, gorgeous scenery, and plethora of local wineries. A wife and mother of two, she works part-time as a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist. She hails from Texas, where she attended the University of Texas and will always bleed orange. She then moved to Washington DC to attend Georgetown's School of Medicine, where she fell in love with her future husband, a fellow student, and has been happily married for almost a decade. She and her husband lived in Cincinnati, Ohio for several years for their medical training and found it the perfect place to start a family. She relocated to the Bay Area a few years ago and has quickly adapted to West Coast living. Meredith enjoys the balance of part-time working and full-time parenting and loves to write about this ongoing struggle. In her persistent drive to find more "me time", she actively pursues her interests in reading, running, soccer, baking, and wine tasting.


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