Ways you can help this holiday season

image001-1By Candace Anderson, Contra Costa County Supervisor:                                                The Holiday Season is a special time for most of us. For some it holds great religious significance with the celebration of Christmas and Hanukkah, and some take part in cultural celebrations such as Kwanzaa. It’s a time to gather with family and friends. Music, parties, great meals, baked treats, and the exchanging of gifts highlight the season. Sadly, there are many who live in Contra Costa County who are not as fortunate as most of us. If you would like to make a difference in their lives, here are two simple ways you can help.

Feeding the Hungry

During this holiday season, for the 11th year in a row, employees of Contra Costa and Solano counties are competing to raise funds for their neighbors in need with the “Counties Care” Holiday Food Fight. Since the Challenge began in 2004, a total of $1,160,840 has been collected. County employees hope to raise over $100,000 again this holiday season. This year’s theme is “Peas, Love & Veggies.” All funds and food collected are contributed to the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. Although canned goods are appreciated and accepted, the Food Bank asks County employees and their friends and families to donate money in order to assist the Food Bank’s purchase of fresh produce, which now accounts for nearly half of the food distributed. Also, because they buy in bulk, for every $1 donated the food bank is able to provide two meals to an individual. Please join this Food Fight by visiting www.foodbankccs.org and clicking on the link to the Counties Care Holiday Food Fight. The link will be available for donations to the “Food Fight” through the end of the year. Be sure to note where appropriate that you are giving as a “friend of CC County employees” and indicate Board of Supervisors, District 2, Candace Andersen as the department designee. The Food Fight challenge between the counties runs from November 29 through December 31.

Gifts for Children

Another way that you can help make this holiday season brighter for those in need is to support Holiday Helpers, a project led each year by the Volunteer and Emergency Services Team in Action (VESTIA). VESTIA is a non-profit organization led by volunteers. It raises money and obtains donated goods and services to provide supplemental support to those served by the Employment and Human Services Department (EHSD) in Contra Costa County when no other resources are available. One of the programs they offer is the Holiday Helpers Warehouse, which provides holiday assistance (gifts, clothing and food) to low-income children.

If you would like to help, they are in need of:

Toys for boys and girls, ages 3 to 14 Board games Art kits Blankets, any size Warm clothing, children’s only Gifts for teens ages 15 – 18, including watches, makeup kits, fashion items (watches, beauty kits, etc.), hat & scarf sets, appropriate DVDs, movie tickets, and gift cards ($15 value) All donations should be new and left unwrapped. Cash donations are also very important for last minute special needs shopping. Please make checks payable to VESTIA, Inc. All donations are tax deductible. For your convenience, you can drop donations off at my Lafayette office (3338 Mt. Diablo Blvd.) or Danville office (309 Diablo Road) until December 12. Or, deliver your donations directly to the Holiday Helpers Warehouse, located at 500 Ellinwood Way in Pleasant Hill, on December 15 & 16 from 8am to 3pm. If you, your company or organization would like to volunteer please contact [email protected] with “HHW” in the subject line. Best wishes to you and your loved ones for a joyful holiday season and a Happy New Year. My office is here to serve the residents of Contra Costa County District 2, which includes San Ramon, Danville, Alamo, Walnut Creek, Saranap, Parkmead, Lafayette, Moraga, Canyon and Orinda. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if we can provide you with additional information on this topic or on other County issues. I can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 925-957-8860.