Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in December

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gift-of-reading-san-jose-mercury-resource-area-for-teachers-RAFT-five-ways-to-be-a-good-neighbor-in-DecemberThis year December and the season of sharing kicks off big time with #GivingTuesday on Dec. 3. While a lot of emphasis is on making online donations to deserving charities that day, giving includes sharing yourself through volunteering, making responsible shopping choices, donating to collection drives, and other similar ways. Here are five ways you can make an impact on your world this month.

1. Give the Gift of Reading: The annual Gift of Reading book drive is struggling this year and could really use help in collecting new and like-new books for kids in need. As of the day before Thanksgiving, the drive had only collected 3,200 books, far short of the 50,000 goal, according to San Jose Mercury columnist Sal Pizarro. The drive is co-sponsored by the Mercury and the Resource Area For Teachers (RAFT). Consider dropping off a children’s book at one of many South Bay locations, or donate money online so the folks at RAFT can purchase books for kids, some of whom have never owned their own book before. The drive ends Friday, Dec. 13. Or give books, toys, gift cards, and other goods in one of the many donation drives taking place throughout the holidays.

2. Help a Neighbor with Decorations: This idea comes from our original list of “30 Ways to be a Good Neighbor at the Holidays.” Maybe an older or disabled neighbor would like a few strings of [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.

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.