November 22, 2006

Become a helping hand during the Holidays

By Pablo Jaime Sainz

‘Tis the season of giving, and in San Diego County there are many Latino children and families that, due to economic hardships, won’t be able to have a Christmas dinner or won’t receive a new toy as a gift.

But not all is lost.

While financial struggles are common in our community, there are also many noble organizations that try to make the Holiday season more special for needy families and children.

There will be several toy and gift drives as well as dinner donations throughout the county.

Family Health Centers Adopt a Family Program

If this season you would like to help out a low-income family, Family Health Centers of San Diego has a program where you can “adopt” a family. Clinic staff nominates families that come from disadvantaged backgrounds and match them with donors who “adopt” them for the season, said program coordinator Louise Nutt.

“Usually the families are uninsured,” she said.

Last year the program put out 70 families for adoption, the majority of which are Latino families. The gifts can include gift certificates for food to toys for the children, she said.

The deadline to “adopt” a family is Nov. 29.

For more information you can call (619) 515-2562 or e-mail Nutt at

San Ysidro School District’s Food Basket Drive

For the past eight years, the San Ysidro School District has held an annual food basket drive where students, staff, teachers, and parents, all contribute non-perishable dry goods in order to give out food baskets during the Christmas season to those District’s families that need it the most.

“We have competitions in each school to see who brings the most goods,” said Rosa Castro, the District’s Personnel Technician, who works for the Human Resources Department, which is organizing the food drive. “Staff and administrators donate hams, turkeys and cash to this campaign.”

Castro said that principals and teachers select 10 needy families from each school and those are the families that receive the food baskets.

This year’s campaign will take place from November 27 through December 11. The families will receive the baskets during the last week of school before winter break.

And on this occasion, the District is inviting the public to donate to the food drive so that the students’ families can benefit and have a happier Christmas.

To participate, you can take your donation in the form of canned or dry goods (cereal, cake mixes, flour, sugar, etc.) directly to one of the District’s schools, or you can call (619) 428-4476 for further information on how to contribute.

Sherman Heights Community Center Toy and Gift Drive

This year the Sherman Heights Community Center will have a Christmas Dinner for all the families that participate in the center’s programs and events. Many of these are needy families, said board member Patty Medina.

She said the center’s goal is to collect 200 new, unwrap toys, books or gifts to keep a positive spirit of the holidays and to enjoy the company of friends and neighbors.

Monetary donations are also accepted, she said.

For more information call (619) 232-5181.

Toy drive at Casa Familiar

For a young child, a Christmas without a toy, might as well not be a Christmas at all. That’s the reason why Casa Familiar, a social services agency in San Ysidro, is having a toy drive this season.

Program coordinator Susana Torres said that this year 1,060 children from San Ysidro signed-up to receive a toy. The children come from low-income families in the community.

“We’re asking for donations of any new toy for children up to 14 years old,” she said.

The toys collected will be distributed to the children on December 18.

For more information about Casa Familiar’s toy drive, you can call Susana Torres at (619) 428-1115.

Nomar’s Barrio Logan Toy Drive

The non-profit Nomar is collecting toys and money to buy toys for more than 600 children that attend after-school programs at Barrio Station, a community center that supports the education of students from the Barrio Logan area. The goal is to collect at least 600 new toys by Dec. 1, said Nomar’s representative Marlow Martinez. The children will receive the gifts in mid-December. For information call (619) 238-0314 o

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