http://pleasantonweekly.com/print/story/print/2012/12/14/holiday-fund-can-help-thousands


Pleasanton Weekly

Column - December 14, 2012

Holiday Fund can help thousands

by Jeb Bing

This has been a tough financial year for the 10 nonprofits that hope to receive desperately needed aid from the Pleasanton Weekly's 2012 Holiday Fund that is now under way. Our goal this year is $100,000 and we're making a good start with $43,546 contributed so far. But we need more and are counting on your help to provide the selected organizations with the funds they need.

Last week, the Valley Real Estate Network (VREN) stepped to the plate -- or dance floor -- at its annual Holiday Party and fundraiser to benefit the Pleasanton Weekly Holiday Fund. Over 135 people attended the party held at Karma Fusion Lounge in Dublin to exchange holiday cheer and make their contributions, raising nearly $3,500, including a generous donation by Old Republic Title Company of $500. Over the years, VREN has helped raise over $125,000 for the Holiday Fund.

The next day, at its meeting in Pleasanton, VREN heard from Linda McKeever, executive director of Open Heart Kitchen, and Shelley Despotakis, manager of the ValleyCare Charitable Foundation, two of our primary beneficiaries this year.

"We survive just by the generosity of the community," McKeever said in thanking VREN and the Pleasanton Weekly for helping to fund the food bank. She pointed out that the Holiday Fund money goes directly to programs that serve meals to needy school children in the Tri-Valley and low-income seniors. Last year, 237,000 meals were provided at distribution sites in Pleasanton, Dublin and Livermore, including to seniors at Ridge View Commons on Case Avenue in Pleasanton.

Open Heart Kitchen has already served that number of meals this year and, with the holidays coming, is looking at a 15% growth for the year. Even though the local economy has improved in recent months, McKeever still sees hungry families coming in the door for what is often their only hot meal of the day. The organization also is using Holiday Fund contributions to expand its children's box lunch program, which provides weekend meals for low-income children at their school sites. A new program is also delivering box lunches to low income seniors who, she said, are having a difficult time making ends meet right now.

Despotakis acknowledged that the ValleyCare Health System (VCHS) has received more than $100,000 in donations from contributors to the Weekly's Holiday Fund. These have been used to support the ValleyCare Health Library and Ryan Comer Resource Center in Pleasanton and the expansion program of its emergency room operation.

This year, the funds will be used to help pay for a new mammogram machine and new beds for the ICU. Holiday Fund contributions also will go to fund a Nurse Navigator to run the Palliative Care Program. Despotakis said the program is designed to help a patient and family deal with very serious and often incurable diseases, and how to handle everything related to that, including family support, medical decisions, social services, long term care and more.

Contributions to the Holiday Fund will be disbursed in two tiers, with 75% of all dollars raised going to Axis Community Health, Pleasanton Partnerships in Education (PPIE) Foundation and the Valley Humane Society, as well as Open Heart Kitchen and ValleyCare. Another 25% of the contributions will go to Hope Hospice, Pleasanton Cultural Arts Council, REACH, Sandra J. Wing Therapies and Senior Support Program of the Tri-Valley.

The Pleasanton Weekly Holiday Fund is a donor advised fund of Silicon Valley Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. A contribution to this fund allows your donation to be tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. Although there will be no matching funds as we had before through the now-closed Tri-Valley Community Foundation, SVCF and the Pleasanton Weekly will handle all costs of the campaign. That means that every dollar will go directly to the 10 nonprofits with no administrative expenses.

As Open Heart Kitchen and ValleyCare are finding, the other beneficiaries we have targeted for assistance have also that they now have many more to serve and often fewer dollars from their regular donors who are, in many instances, facing financial, employment and health care challenges and uncertainties themselves. Last year, when the state of the economy was perhaps even more dire, Pleasanton Weekly readers rallied to the call and contributed $104,000 in direct donations to the Holiday Fund.

Please help us reach that goal again. Direct your donations to:

Pleasanton Weekly Holiday Fund

c/o Silicon Valley Community Foundation

2440 West El Camino Real, Suite 300

Mountain View, California 94040

Checks should be made payable to Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

There is also an opportunity to donate through Pay Pal online at www.siliconvalleycf.org/pleasantonweeklyholidayfund.

All donations will be acknowledged shortly after being received.

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