| Holidays: San Franciscan's Miracle of Giving
By Jonathan Farrell Dec 29, 2008
As the year comes to a close, charities are gearing up for the 2008 holiday Season. The principal items for the holidays are food and toys. Many honored and long-standing organizations are hoping the people of San Francisco will be generous despite dismal financial forecasts.
SFFD Union-sponsored toy drive center
is located at Station 30 on 3rd Street.
Photo: Jennifer Pickens
Organizations seeking help are, the San Francisco Firefighter’s Union, The Salvation Army and The United States Marine Corps Reserve.
Two other long-standing organizations are Meals on Wheels and Larkin Street Youth Services.
Before splurging on a holiday spending spree, did you know that $50 could fund 10 meals delivered to a homebound senior? Two hours of your time can help with errands, do home repairs, or simply provide company and companionship for a homebound senior.
$50 donated to Larkin Street Youth Services provides one homeless kid with a warm bed and meal for a night. Two hours of your volunteer time serves and cooks a meal, given to kids on the street, They also get a “survival kit” with toothbrush and soap. Or your help can provide a tutoring session.
Capt. John Hanley, president of the San Francisco Firefighters Union - Local 798 oversees the annual toy collection program, which has been collecting toys for over 50 years.
Hanley praised the generosity of San Franciscans as he said, “The people are good about donating. In fact, they are excellent.” But he is worried that with the advent of the Wall Street crisis and talk of recession, there will not be enough donations to meet the demand.
“Last year we collected enough toys to give to 10,000 families in the city. We were even able to give out bicycles,” said Hanley. He mentioned that when the firefighters of SF began the tradition, “It began with bicycles. Then it evolved into collecting toys. We were among the very first in the nation to have such an outreach at Christmastime.”
Based upon last year’s needs, Hanley estimated that the number of families applying for toys is likely to increase. “We are anticipating a 20 percent increase above the amount from last year,” he said.
Families in need are invited to stop by any fire station in the city and fill out an application.
“Applications will continue to be accepted and processed until Dec. 24. We continue to distribute toys even well into Christmas Day. No one is denied,” said Hanley.
Hanley and his staff are eager to collect toys for San Francisco families in need. Donations of money and new toys are graciously accepted at any fire station house in the city.
THE SALVATION ARMY
Claire Dunmore serves as the director of family services for The Giving Tree toy collection program for The Salvation Army. Dunmore mentioned that The Giving Tree is one of several out-reach programs and services The Salvation Army coordinates during the holiday season.
For the toy collection program, "we collected over 10,500 toys last year and we hope to collect more as we know the need will be greater this year," she said.
Making use of supplies that are saved to be available throughout the year, Dunmore also mentioned that last year the San Francisco area received over 24,000 gifts for the holiday season. “We give to families in need and that includes other items besides toys, such as household items. We also give to seniors too,” she added.
Dunmore noted that so many people from all walks of life are in need throughout the year and that The Salvation Army makes it part of its mission to serve as many people as possible. “We are totally funded by donations and all the work we do is coordinated entirely by the Salvation Army itself,” she said.
New toys and cash donations are requested. Dunmore and her staff are already busy setting things in motion, as she talked to the Mission Dispatch phone lines were ringing.
Eager to get an early start for this holiday season The Salvation Army has sent out hundreds of letters to past participants and donors to ask for help.
New toys can be dropped off at 519 Stevenson Street. Yet Dunmore said that The Salvation Army needs local businesses, schools, etc. to volunteer their space as a drop off location. “We will pick up toys from any participating drop-off location.”
“Applications for recipients of toys will start on Nov. 10 and ends by Dec. 22,” said Dunmore. “We also need lots of volunteers to help us distribute toys,” she added.
US MARINES CORPS TOY FOR TOTS
“Last year we collected 43,862 toys in our program,” said Sgt. William Beal of the 23rd Regiment. As the conflict in the Middle East continues deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan make the efforts to fulfill duties of annual tradition a challenge. Founded in 1947 by Maj. Bill Hendricks and his wife, the US Marines Corps Toy For Tots campaign is nationwide.
Despite many obstacles Beal and toy program coordinator Gy. Sgt. Tim Anthamatten has remained steadfast in their efforts to meet the demands.
“We also purchased an additional 2522 toys from donations received,” said Beal. Yet even when donations are high there is always a call for back up as the unexpected arises.
“We received additional toys from the Toys for Tots Foundation to meet the requirements that we had in the Bay Area.” “We distributed toys to 28596 children last year,” he said.
“Our goal this year is 80,000 toys,” said Beal. He noted that “the population of the area that our program covers is 1.7 million people.” “That is about 1100 square miles over three counties,” he said.
Like Hanley and Dunmore, he knows that this year will face hardships. “With the economy the way it is we are anticipating that the number of children that we will be providing toys to will go up this year,” said Beal.
“We average two toys per child and we are expecting at least 40,000 children this year,” he said.
With charitable outreaches of this magnitude, Like Dunmore and Hanley, he knows that help from the community is vital. “I do not have the total number of businesses and groups that participated last year but it was in the hundreds,” said Beal.
The Firefighters’ Union, The Salvation Army and the US Marine Corps of the 23rd Regiment have faith that San Franciscans will be generous this year as always.
For more information contact the SF Firefighters Toy Program at (415) 777-0440.
For more information about the Salvation Army's Giving Tree Program call (415) 575-4848.
For more information about the US Marine Corps Toys For Tots campaign call program coordinator Sgt. Tim Anthamatten at (650) 244-9806, Ext. 1407 or Sgt. William Beal at Ext. 1408.
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