8 Ways for Families to Give Back This Holiday Season

November 6, 2017

Giant Turkey Town Center Corte Madera SF-Marin Food Bank

Teach your children that the holiday season isn't just about getting gifts, but about giving back to our community, too. Here are 8 ways that families can give back, from donations of food and toys to serving a meal for the needy. If you have a favorite cause worth supporting this holiday season, please let us know.

Help Feed Local Families through the SF-Marin Food Bank

The SF-Marin Food Bank works to end hunger in Marin and San Francisco by providing food to families in need. You can drop off non-perishable food donations at various locations throughout Marin County, including the World's Largest Turkey at Town Center Corte Madera (through the end of November) and the SF-Marin Food Bank warehouse in Bel Marin Keys. Items like canned tuna and meat, peanut butter, soup, chili, canned beans, canned fruits and veggies, cereal, and granola are all needed. Learn more here.

Participate in Holiday Share at Novato Human Needs Center

Help the Novato Human Needs Center provide gifts to 150 families and their children in Novato via its Holiday Share program. The Center's gift wish list includes $25 gift cards from Target and Safeway, new children's books in English or Spanish, and cash donations of all amounts. Learn more here.

Help San Rafael Santa Cop Make Christmas Bright for Kids

San Rafael Santa Cop is an effort by the San Rafael Police Department and Fire Department to make the holiday a little brighter for kids who might otherwise not receive any Christmas gifts. You can drop off new, unwrapped toys in barrels located throughout Central Marin; if your donation is too large to fit, they'll even arrange a pick-up. A few of the things Santa Cop needs are games for tots to teens, dolls, action figures, stuffed animals, trucks, cars, trains, blocks, books, and paint and craft sets. There will be a Santa Cop toy drive at the West End Nursery Christmas House on Saturday, December 2 from 1 to 3 pm—bring a toy and get a free photo with Santa! You can also help by participating in a wrapping party on Wednesday, December 20 from noon to 5 pm. Learn more.

Become a Food Runner for ExtraFood

ExtraFood is an organization that collects excess prepared food from restaurants, catering companies, etc., and distributes it to Marin non-profits that feed the hungry. Volunteer food runners drive to an organization in Marin, pick up a food donation, then drive it immediately to a local non-profit organization. Volunteers need to be 18 or over and have a vehicle and valid driver’s license, car registration, and ExtraFood's minimum amount of car insurance. Kids can participate with a volunteering parent. Learn more.

Serve a Meal to the Needy at GLIDE

San Francisco's GLIDE serves meal to the hungry 364 days a year. You and your family can help serve a meal; the minimum age to serve is 12, and children ages 9 and up can help during the bagged lunch shift. All children under 16 must be accompanied by a chaperone. Sign up for a shift here. The holidays are a popular time to volunteer at GLIDE, so shifts are filling up quickly. Learn more.

Give a Toy to Marines' Toys for Tots Drive

The US Marine Corps Reserve's Toys for Tots program is famous for providing toys for less fortunate children in the community. You can drop off new, unwrapped toys at collection sites throughout Marin County and the Bay Area, including Edna Maguire Elementary School, the Cave/CrossFit Marin, Marin Ford, and the Tiburon Fire Protection District. Find toy drop locations and learn more here.

Give the Gift of One Warm Coat

One Warm Coat collects coats and outerwear for the needy in the fall and winter. You can donate new or gently used coats at drop off locations throughout Marin, including the Osher Marin JCC in San Rafael, Harvest Market in Novato, and McGuire Real Estate in Mill Valley. Check their website for more donation locations or to see how you can set up your own coat drive. You can donate funds online, too.

Help Women and Children in Need through Sparkle's Holiday Gift Drive

100% of donations given to the Novato-based Sparkle Foundation go directly to women and children in need. All recipients are hand-selected by Sparkle. Donate gifts or funds for their 2017 Gift Drive and learn more on their website.