Give the Gift of the Season
This is the season of giving.
It’s a time to make loved ones and friends feel special by giving meaningful trinkets and, perhaps more importantly, the gift of time together. It’s this convivial spirit that helps lift us out of the doldrums of winter; magically conjuring a sense of abundance during a historically barren and harsh time of year.
While it is traditional to extend warmth and gifts to the people close to us, perhaps this is the year we look beyond our local tribe and extend a kindness to a family in need. Many of us have felt the effects of the economy on our personal finances, and while it may mean a tolerable sacrifice of tighter budgeting and fewer trips to the coffee shop for some, for others the situation is more debilitating.
In Solano County, over 9% of our population lives below the poverty line, with women making up the majority of this statistic.
With the cost of basics like food, shelter, and fuel skyrocketing over the past year, the thin margin by which these people live is being stretched to its brink, causing families to forgo non-essential items like holiday gifts for the kids. Thankfully, there are a few community organizations that can help.
The Benicia Community Action Council is a non-profit organization that provides resources to those in need. Their holiday programs include:
- Adopt a Family. Families-in-need are connected with local families, agencies, organizations and/or businesses who “adopt” them for the holidays. The families are presented with gifts and food.
- “Home for the Holidays” Food Baskets. Nutritious, well stocked food gift baskets are created and provided to eligible low-income Benicia households at Christmas time.
- Adopt a Senior. Carefully screened families and individuals are put in contact with a homebound senior who seeks companionship and camaraderie during the holiday season.
- Benicia Cares for Kids. Benicia CAC conducts a community-wide toy drive to collect new toys and other presents low-income children request on their Benicia CAC Christmas Wish List.
To volunteer for any of these programs, call Benicia CAC at 707.745.0900. Donations can be made via PayPal and more information can be found at bencac.com. The Benicia CAC also offers other year-round programs.
St. Paul’s Episcopal has long offered their Feed the Hungry Community Meal, every Monday at Wednesday from 4:30-6pm.
This continues through the holiday season, along with their seasonal programs which includes The Giving Tree, which presents a Christmas surprise to a child in need.
Beyond Solano, The Kimberly Moore Foundation offers an Adopt a Letter program which allows donors to “adopt” a letter to Santa from children in need.
The program was inspired by the founder, Kimberly Moore’s experience finding a lost letter to Santa from a 6-year old on the post office floor. The letter simply asked for food for the 6-year old’s family for Christmas. Through her foundation, donors can be “Santa” by granting the wishes of kids in need. For more information or to donate, visit kimberlymoorefoundation.org.
There are other community support programs that help folks in need throughout the year, but can be especially needed around the holidays.
The Meals on Wheels program is one of these. Meals on Wheels of Solano County delivers nutritious meals to homebound seniors, helping seniors remain independent while providing nutrition for them and their pets, human connection, fall prevention and other resources. To learn more or to donate or volunteer, please visit mealsonwheelssolano.org.
There are also Family Resource Centers across Solano County, including in Benicia.
The FRC is a community-based center that provides information and referral services to families and children. Each FRC tailors its resources to best serve its respective community. FRC can be reached for an appointment at 707.746.4352.
Soroptimist International of Benicia is donating gift cards to the Benicia FRC for their Adopt a Family program so that families can choose items they need.
The Liberty High School S Club is also hosting a fundraiser at the Holiday Open House and Tree Lighting so that they may Adopt a Family this season, as well.
These are just a few organizations lending a helping hand to those in need during the winter and holiday season. If you or people you know need help this season, do not hesitate to reach out. If you have the means to give either time or money to any of these programs this season, please do and know that you are making a difference.