Peninsula Book Stores Collecting Books for Women Prisoners

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Former state assemblywoman Sally Lieber and Reach and Teach co-owner Craig Wiesner.

Several Peninsula independent book sellers are asking people to donate new and slightly used books and magazines to give women in state prisons some positive and engaging material to read.

The stores, along with a Palo Alto real estate office and Sunnyvale City Hall, are currently collecting books through May 15. Boxes at seven locations are available for people to drop off donations (click on “more” link below).

“More than two-thirds of the women in state prison are non-violent offenders and more than two-thirds are mothers. Any reading material that engages the mind and broadens horizons will help,” according to Craig Wiesner, co-owner of Reach and Teach in San Mateo.

Books needed include how-to books, quality fiction from diverse writers, and biographies. Paperbacks are strongly preferred. Only paperback textbooks are accepted, and only if they are less than three years old and in good condition. Current, quality magazines, also in good condition, are also being accepted.

Especially needed are children’s picture books, easy reading books, young adult, and teen classics for youth, women with lower reading levels and children during visitation, as are unopened boxes of Crayola crayons and packs of construction paper. [Read more...]

Startup Solving In-Kind Donation Challenges for Nonprofits, Donors

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Roonga-in-kind-donations-nonprofits-project-weHOPE-East-Palo-Alto-Evelyn-HorngClothing and blanket drives are popular this time of year, but in-kind donations can pose a challenge, not only for donors who have to coordinate dropping off items, but also for nonprofits that sometimes wind up with supplies that don’t quite fit their needs.

Enter Silicon Valley startup Roonga. Company founders say they are committed to solving both sides of the challenge by offering a new way to run donation drives online.

“We’re trying to make in-kind donations cost effective, and help nonprofits get exactly what they need,” said Roonga co-founder Evelyn Horng.

Currently Roonga is working with Project WeHOPE in East Palo Alto to make sure its new homeless shelter has all the blankets, sheets, towels, robes, and coats it needs for clients this winter, plus laundry detergent to keep it all clean. The nonprofit previously operated a warming shelter from fall to spring, but recently received the funds and approval to open year round. [Read more...]

Giving Back Q&A with Steven Ketchpel

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What’s the biggest mistake people make when donating?Giving-Back-book-Stephen-Ketchpel-volunteering-donating-good-neighbor-stories

I had an inkling Steven P. Ketchpel, Ph.D., Bay Area author of Giving Back, would have a very good answer. His well-written and thought-out guidebook helps readers through the process of figuring out their passions and interests, as well as through the planning, implementation, and follow-up of any donation or project.

As a follow-up to my review of his book, he agreed to answer that question and a few more about donating and volunteering.

Good Neighbor Stories: What’s the feedback from readers been like for the book?

Ketchpel: I love hearing back from readers (ketchpel@giving-back.info), and have heard stories of action inspired by the book:  starting to volunteer on a new project, having a discussion about values with their family, or making loans through Kiva.  I’ve also heard from experienced volunteer/leaders who love the book—one described it as a “yellow brick road” with “simple, easy steps we can take to create something important.”

What’s the biggest mistake people make when making donations? What’s the number one thing they can do to avoid mistakes in the future? [Read more...]

Giving Back: Great Guidebook for Volunteering, Donating Decisions

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If you’ve ever struggled with where to volunteer your time, or the most efficient way to donate money, Giving Back by Steven P. Ketchpel, Giving-Back-book-Stephen-Ketchpel-volunteering-donating-good-neighbor-storiesPh.D., is the book for you.

Underscore that advice if you have kids and have always wanted to find ways to volunteer as a family, or teach life lessons about the value of donating to causes you care about.

Ketchpel is a San Francisco Bay Area computer scientist and entrepreneur who grew up in a family dedicated to giving back to the community. He writes that even before he was born his parents were very involved in church, Scouting, and spreading kindness throughout their neighborhood. He grew up in Boy Scouts, and when it came time for his Eagle Project he helped his church modernize by computerizing membership records.

Uncovering Passions and Creating Plans

When I first met Ketchpel in December, he described the book to me as a sort of a What Color is Your Parachute for volunteering and donating. In other words, a guidebook to help users discover their passions and create strategic plans for service and giving away money. [Read more...]

Be Kind by Thinking Globally, Donating Locally

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Today’s Random Act of Kindness Week assignment is to donate either time or money to a local charity. I like this one, because it shines a light Yasmine-Davis-Make-a-Birthday-Wish-Good-Neighbor-Stories-Random-Acts-of-Kindness-Weekon those nonprofit organizations that serve our communities day in and day out, many times without the recognition or larger donations that benefit big name national and international groups.

Good Neighbor Stories often features small nonprofits making a big impact while operating on shoestring budgets here in the San Francisco Bay Area. On Wednesday two groups, The Grateful Garment Project, and Good Karma Bikes were part of my “Profiles in Kindness” post.

I’ve also written about other small nonprofits like Make a Birthday Wish in Cupertino, led by teenager Yasmine Davis and her family. Together with Yasmine’s friends as volunteers, they throw birthday parties for Silicon Valley children whose families are homeless or in deep financial need, complete with gifts, cake, decorations, favors, and fun activities.

Another great example of a small group making a big difference is Project WeHope in East Palo Alto. Pastor Paul Bains [Read more...]

Our List of Bay Area Toy Drives; Santa Needs Those Donations ASAP

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Click here for our 2013 list!

UPDATE 12/17/12: the deadlines coming up this week and beyond are highlighted.

There are only 13 more shopping days until Christmas, but for most toy drives in the San Francisco Bay area, the deadline is looming over the Sandwich_Spot_Redwood_City_ChiPs_For_Kids_Toy_Drive_Donationsnext several days to ensure less fortunate children and teens receive gifts in time for the holiday.

If you’re already out shopping, consider picking up a new toy, or grabbing an extra gift card (much easier for teens), to donate to one of the many drives. Here’s our extensive list of local holiday toy drives, their drop-off locations, needs, and deadlines, organized by area.

For donating new or like-new books, check out our previous post on the Gift of Reading, which has drop-offs mostly in the South Bay, with one in Redwood City. Deadline is Sunday, Dec. 16.

Can’t drop off a toy or book? Click on the name of the organization to go to its website (if available); many are taking online donations, or provide addresses for sending checks.

Know of a toy drive we missed? Tell us in the comments. [Read more...]

Gift of Reading Book Drive in Need of Donations; Deadline Dec. 16

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The Gift of Reading, a once popular annual Silicon Valley holiday charity drive, has only collected about 2,000 books so far this season, according to San Jose Mercury News columnist Mike Cassidy. He put out a call on Friday for local residents to step up and donate a new, or like-new, book for a child by the Sunday, Dec. 16 deadline.

At its height, Gift of Reading collected more than 80,000 books for children who couldn’t afford their own books. The program nearly died last year, but was revived by RAFT, the Resource Area For Teachers, in San Jose, according to Cassidy.

“I know the season of giving can be exhausting. Everybody wants something. And, of course, everybody needs to decide whether and who they would like to help out,” Cassidy said in his Dec. 7 column. “But few gifts have the bang for the buck of a book. You can find a kid’s book for less than $10; a lot less for a paperback. And many of us are lucky enough to know that warm and powerful feeling of being a child holding that special book.”

A complete list of drop-off locations, most bookstores and libraries, is on the Mercury News website. You can also make a credit card donation to the program on the RAFT website.

Here Comes “Giving Tuesday,” a Day of Charity to Follow Buying Frenzy

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It was, perhaps, inevitable that someone would follow up Thanksgiving weekend’s “Black Friday,” “Small Business Saturday,” and “Cyber Monday,” with a day devoted to charity. This year someone has, with “Giving Tuesday.” The first one takes place tomorrow, Nov. 27.

Giving Tuesday is the brainchild of the 92nd Street Y in New York City, which was joined in the effort by the United Nations Foundation, along with numerous corporations and nonprofits. The idea is a simple one: “find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give something more.” Part two of the idea is to then share with others how you are giving back to the community.

More than 2,000 nonprofits around the country signed up as Giving Tuesday parters, including hundreds in the state of California. Some are planning special events to mark the day, and many are kicking off fundraising campaigns for projects. A number of businesses are agreeing to increase giving, or match donations, made on the day.

What do you think about Giving Tuesday as a new holiday tradition? Tell us in the poll!

Will you participate in Giving Tuesday?

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Long List of Local Agencies Needing Holiday Help

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If you’re looking for ways to help those in need this holiday season, the San Jose Mercury News recently published a list of more than 25 organizations and agencies requesting the public’s help.

The groups were asking for everything from cash donations, to gift cards, food, clothing, blankets, unwrapped toys, and even things like gift wrap and bows.

For example, groups and agencies like Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI), the City of Saratoga, the Gardner Family Care Corporation, the Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley, and Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County are in need of new, unwrapped toys, books, and other gifts.

The Bill Wilson Center needs lots of gift cards to give to the youth in their program. Many of the teens and young adults don’t get to go shopping very often for something new, and gift cards allow them to get the size, style, and color of the things they need and want most.

Family Supportive Housing is seeking donations of new pillows and blankets (both twin and full sizes), new socks and underwear for children, as well as unwrapped toys and gift cards. Alum Rock Counseling Center could use not only toys and bikes for approximately 200 children, leaders are also asking for donations of large rolls of wrapping paper, tape, ribbons and bows, baskets, tinned cookies, candy, bottled water, and more.

See the complete list for more information. If you know of additional holiday donation opportunities in the San Francisco Bay Area, please tell us in comments.

 

 

 

How to Help Superstorm Sandy Victims; Money and Blood Donations Needed Now

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As the Northeast continues to feel the severe impacts of Superstorm Sandy, the rest of the country is already jumping in to help. Not only is money needed to help fund relief efforts already underway, the American Red Cross is also putting out a national call for blood donations to make up for nearly 300 cancelled drives in 11 affected states. Use the links below to donate, or find out more information.

To donate to relief efforts:

  • American Red Cross – Visit www.redcross.org to make a direct donation, or text the word “Redcross” to 90999 to donate $10. Craigslist founder Craig Newmark is offering a matching opportunity. He will match any donations to the Red Cross through his Crowdrise fundraising page, up to $25,000. Crowdrise takes 4.95 percent of donations to help fund its operating costs; 100 percent of the donation is tax deductible.
  • Salvation Army – The organization is accepting donations to fund its disaster relief efforts. Volunteers are feeding thousands and operating shelters throughout the region. Visit www.salvationarmyusa.org to donate.
  • Feeding America – The group is distributing thousands of pounds of food and fresh water through a network of food banks throughout the Northeast. Find out more at feedingamerica.org.
  • UPDATE – Presbyterian Disaster Assistance – Since this story was first posted, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance set up a way to donate $10 via texting: text “PDA” to 20222. Or donate online at the PDA website.

American Red Cross blood drives in the San Francisco Bay Area over the next week: [Read more...]