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How to give back this holiday season in San Diego County

Opportunities abound in San Diego County for people to share holiday spirit and brighten the lives of the less fortunate.
Opportunities abound in San Diego County for communities to share holiday spirit and brighten the lives of others who are less fortunate.
(Jarrod Valliere / The San Diego Union-Tribune)
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The winter holidays offer many opportunities to help brighten lives for many in our communities. Here are some suggestions to spread the warmth of the season to others:

CARLSBAD

Gift bag drive: Rapid Response Housing Solutions provides holiday gift bags to the men at the La Posada de Guadalupe Men’s Shelter in Carlsbad, and this year is expanding the program to include Operation HOPE-NC, a women’s and family shelter in Vista. Needed items include outerwear, toiletries, backpacks, toys and gift cards. See the full list at bit.ly/3EB5qfk. Drop off donations through Dec. 15 at these locations: Hera Hub Carlsbad, 5205 Avenida Encinas, Suite A; Road Runner Sports Carlsbad, 5617 Paseo Del Norte; Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce, 5934 Priestly Drive, and Well Being for Life 7220 Avenida Encinas, Suite 100. To make cash donations, send a check to Rapid Response Housing Solutions, P.O. Box 2194, Carlsbad, CA 92018, or donate online at givebutter.com/rapidresponsehousingsolutions.

Do Good, Be Good Package benefits lagoon: The Cassara Carlsbad, 5805 Armada Drive, part of the Tapestry Collection by Hilton, offers a Do Good, Be Good Package, with luxury accommodations and a tandem kayaking VIP Eco Tour for two (adults 18+) at the Agua Hedionda Lagoon. The VIP Eco Tour includes a two-hour in-depth look at the lagoon’s ecosystem as well as a history lesson about the Native Americans who called the lagoon home. Tour bookings will be donated to the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation’s exhibits and programs. Visit thecassaracarlsbad.com/offers.

CARMEL MOUNTAIN

Gift and toy drive: The nonprofit Promises2Kids is collecting new, unwrapped gifts and gift cards to distribute to foster children this holiday season. The Give From Your Heart Holiday Gift Drive is presented by Carmel Mountain Preschool from 9 to 11 a.m. Dec. 12 and invites the community to join. Drop off a gift at the school, 9510 Carmel Mountain Road, San Diego, and take a photo with the Grinch, Cindy Lou Who and Santa. Gifts can also be purchased online at Amazon and shipped to Promises2Kids (9400 Ruffin Court, Suite A, San Diego, CA 92123), or dropped off at Promises2Kids or at bin locations through Dec. 14. Promises2Kids annually provides more than 3,000 current and former foster youth in San Diego County with the help they need to overcome difficulties and become successful adults. Visit promises2kids.org for a list of drop-off locations and information.

CHULA VISTA

Shoes and socks: The Chula Vista Police Department’s School Resource Officer Unit, in partnership with the Chula Vista Police Foundation, Chula Vista Elementary School District, and South Bay Community Services, are holding their 11th annual Shoe and Sock Drive, providing shoes and socks to needy youths in the community. On Dec. 10, select students registered at Chula Vista Elementary School District will be invited to Solo Shoes to hand-pick their new shoes and socks. Money donations are welcomed and will be used to buy shoes and socks for the students. Visit chulavistapolicefoundation.org/donate-today and designate “Shoe and Sock Drive” in the comments section.

Donations for dinner: The Chula Vista Police Department is seeking donations for its annual holiday meal for needy families in the South Bay. More than 500 families will receive a meal voucher to attend the event, scheduled for Dec. 19 at the Walmart at 1150 Broadway. The voucher will provide a frozen turkey and side dishes for a family to enjoy an entire holiday meal. Santa will also visit to give toys to the children. Donations are welcomed at chulavistapolicefoundation.org/donate-today; designate “Holiday Drive” in the comments section.

DEL MAR

Blankets for baskets: The Del Sol Lions Club is collecting blankets for the Community Resource Center’s Holiday Baskets ’22. Now through Dec. 1, new queen and king blankets can be dropped off at the Solana Beach Chamber of Commerce, 210 Plaza St.; City of Del Mar, 1050 Camino del Mar; and Solana Beach Family Optometry, Dr. Kristin Peterson Salgado, 977 Lomas Santa Fe, Suite B. Online donations are also welcome at delsollions.org. Click on the “make a donation” tab. Then select “new blankets for CRC” from the pull down tab. The Del Sol Lions Club will buy the blankets. Contact Caroline Matthews at caroline.j.matthews@gmail.com.

ESCONDIDO

Children’s Christmas party: The Escondido Police Department hosts an annual children’s Christmas party for child victims of violence. The department welcomes donations of a new, unwrapped gift or a gift card for children ages newborn to 18. Drop off donations at Escondido Police Department Front Lobby, 163 N. Centre City Parkway; Escondido Federal Credit Union, 201 N. Broadway; Escondido City Hall, 201 N. Broadway; Blue Mug Coffee & Tea, 1882 W. El Norte Parkway; and CrossFit Point A, 969 Rancheros Drive, Suite A, San Marcos. Gifts will be collected until Dec. 2. Contact Cecilia Gonzalez, Family Protection Unit, Escondido Police Department, at (760) 839-4931.

Gift cards for students: The Escondido Union High School District is collecting $25 Target or Walmart gift cards as part of a holiday drive for high school students affected by homelessness. Gift cards can be mailed to the Escondido Union High School District, care of Paula Zamudio, or dropped off at the district service center, 302 N. Midway Drive, through Dec. 1. Contact pzamudio@euhsd.org or call (760) 291-3237.

FALLBROOK

Giving open house: The Fallbrook Chamber hosts a “Christmas of Giving” open house from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Dec. 17 at its office, 111 S. Main Ave. Cash or checks made payable to one (or all) of several organizations is welcome: Empowering Latino Futures, Good Dog! Service Canines, Neighborhood Healthcare, and REINS. Call (760) 728-5845.

LA MESA

Food and blood drive: The SDCCU Holiday Bowl holds a food drive along with a blood drive from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 17 at Grossmont Center (next to Chuze Fitness) to benefit the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank and San Diego Blood Bank. The event is presented by Kaiser Permanente. Blood drive participants need to preregister at sandiegobloodbank.org. The food drive portion of the event doesn’t require an appointment. Grossmont Center is at 5500 Grossmont Center Drive. Visit grossmontcenter.com.

Toy drive for military kids: Join the members of the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce and donate toys, diapers and other items that will make the holiday season special for children living in La Mesa military housing. The chamber is collecting these items for children ages 2-13 years old. A toy drive party will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Dec. 6 at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, 5500 Grossmont Center Drive. Admission is free to chamber members bringing a new, unwrapped toy. Nonmember guests bringing an unwrapped toy are $10, and all “at-door” guests bringing an unwrapped toy are $20. The evening includes heavy hors d’oeuvres, salads and signature pizzas. Reserve by Dec. 1 to rsvp@lamesachamber.com. Those who can’t attend but wish to donate can call (619) 465-7700 to make arrangements.

Helping homebound seniors: The La Mesa Chamber of Commerce invites the community to help 16 homebound seniors — 12 women and four men. The chamber is collecting, buying and assembling items for large gift baskets and bags, to be delivered by the La Mesa Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol. Deadline for donations is Dec. 2. If you wish to donate food from your pantry, please make sure they have not expired. Suggested items: canned soups, vegetables and fruits; packets of crackers and pasta or macaroni and cheese; bars and bottles of soap, tubes of toothpaste, packs of tissues, hand sanitizer, pens and pads of paper. Gift cards also welcome from Walmart, Target or any grocery store. Deliver items to Fran Smith from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays at the La Mesa Chamber office, 8080 La Mesa Blvd., Suite 214. Mary England is also available seven days a week to meet donors and pick up items directly. Call (619) 251-7730.

Light Up the Holidays: The Salvation Army hosts its red-kettle kickoff, “Light Up the Holidays,” from 4 to 6 p.m. Nov. 26 at Grossmont Center, 5500 Grossmont Center Drive. The free family event includes a tree lighting, holiday music, performances and photos with Santa. Besides money donations, the Salvation Army is accepting new, unwrapped toys. Visit salarmy.us/lightuptheholidays.

NORTH COUNTY

Be a Santa: Home Instead offers the “Be a Santa to a Senior” program, where community members can give a special holiday gift to an older adult who might otherwise go without. This is the program’s 19th year in the area, and coordinators hope to collect gifts for 300 local seniors. Be a Santa to a Senior trees can be found at Walmart stores in Vista (1800 University Drive) and San Marcos (732 Center Drive). Ornaments featuring the name and desired gift will be on display, and shoppers can buy the gift and return it unwrapped to that location with the ornament attached. Ornaments will be available through Dec. 11. Visit beasantatoasenior.com or call (760) 639-6472.

OCEANSIDE

Brother Benno’s gift card drive: Oceanside-based nonprofit Brother Benno’s is collecting Walmart gift cards to give at its annual Children’s Christmas Party. The nonprofit serves homeless and working poor community members. The gift card drive is through Dec. 10. Visit brotherbenno.org/christmas-gift-cards.

Party help needed: The Veterans Association of North County has been asked to hold seven Christmas parties for approximately 700 active-duty military families. The nonprofit VANC will be supplying the dinners, but needs toys and gift cards for the children. Toys can be dropped off at 1617 Mission Ave. before Dec. 10; checks are also welcome. Or send checks to Veterans Association of North County, attention Brenda Bomar, 1617 Mission Ave., Oceanside, CA 92058. Visit vanc.me.

POWAY

Holiday With Heroes: The Kiwanis Club of Poway is seeking donations and sponsors for its Holiday With Heroes event Dec. 8 at the Poway Community Center for underserved children. The children will be paired with a Hero from the local Sheriff’s Department, Fire Department or military, and will shop for their families at an on-site holiday store. A holiday festival follows with dinner, music and games. Children will receive art supplies, crocheted beanies, blankets, cupcakes, batteries, wrapping paper, books, candy, stuffed animals, socks, a large box of food, and photo with Santa. Donations are needed to provide the families with towels, laundry detergent, or a gift for the 150 children and their families. Visit powaykiwanis.org/HwH.

SAN DIEGO

Festival of Trees: The event is from 4 to 8 p.m. Nov. 20 at InsideOUT, 1642 University Ave., benefiting Being Alive San Diego, a local nonprofit that provides HIV/AIDS and related services throughout San Diego County. Festival of Trees will feature more than 20 decorated and donated artificial trees to be auctioned off and delivered to winners’ homes. The event also features a silent auction and travel raffle. Tree auction winners will have their winning trees delivered the following day by volunteers from the San Diego Armada Rugby Football Club and Junk Medics movers. Visit festivaloftreessd.org.

Mission Fed toy and gift drive: La Maestra Community Health Centers has teamed up with Mission Fed Credit Union for the annual Toy and Gift Drive to provide holiday joy for under-resourced patients. Now through Dec. 1, San Diegans can drop off toys and gifts at any Mission Fed branch. La Maestra is seeking toys, books and gifts for children ages newborn to 18. Items will be distributed to local patients at La Maestra’s El Cajon and City Heights locations. The collection boxes will be at all 34 branches across San Diego County, and two boxes will be placed at Mission Fed’s headquarters at 10325 Meanley Drive, San Diego. Find a branch near you at missionfed.com/branches.

Crockpot drive: Local nonprofit United Way of San Diego County is collecting donations to buy new crockpots through Nov. 14 for local families facing food insecurity during the holiday season. A donation of $50 will help provide one crockpot and some pantry staples for a holiday meal. Visit uwsd.org.

Sleeping bag distribution: The nonprofit San Diego Veterans for Peace is handing out new sleeping bag sets to the neediest homeless downtown and seeks financial donations. The sleeping bag sets (sleeping bag and nylon stuff sack) cost the organization $35 each. To donate, visit sdvfp.org/donate or mail a check to SDVFP, 280 La Veta Ave., Encinitas, CA 92024. Call (858) 342-1964.

Toys for Tots time: San Diego County and the U.S. Marine Corps have posted Toys for Tots donation boxes at the five county airports: McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad, Gillespie Field in El Cajon, Fallbrook Airpark in Fallbrook, Ramona Airport in Ramona and Borrego Valley Airport in Borrego Springs. Drop off a new, unwrapped toy at any airport until 1 p.m. Dec. 10. Two airports are holding special events where uniformed Marines will be on hand to collect donations. The first is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 3 at Ramona Airport, 2450 Montecito Road. The second is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 10 at Fallbrook Airpark, 2155 Air Park Road. Donations requested are new, unwrapped toys, bikes, games, dolls, stuffed animals and other things for children to play with. All donations will be go to children in county communities. Pilots are welcome to fly in to deliver their donations at the airports.

Holiday Angels: ElderHelp’s Holiday Angels will be delivering a poinsettia, $25 gift card and handmade greeting cards to more than 350 seniors on Dec. 4. For many this will be their only holiday visit and gift. ElderHelp is a nonprofit community resource that provides personalized services and information to help seniors remain independent and live with dignity in their own homes. Brighten the life of a senior this holiday season through ElderHelp by donating at holidayangelssd.com.

Presents for Paws: San Diego County Credit Union is collecting money donations for “Presents for Paws,” a special holiday fundraising campaign benefiting animal shelters and rescues in San Diego, Orange and Riverside counties. This will be the credit union’s 11th consecutive holiday season supporting the “Presents for Paws” campaign, and it hopes to raise $10,000 throughout the holiday season. In San Diego County, collections will benefit San Diego Humane Society. Donations will be accepted in-branch or online this year at sdccu.com/paws.

Women Warriors seek support: The Foundation for Women Warriors is calling on the San Diego community to help them support 100 local veteran families through their third annual holiday drive. Now through Dec. 15, they are collecting new and unused children’s toys, clothes and baby items for female veterans and their families. The community can support the drive by: buying items from the Foundation for Women Warriors Holiday Amazon Wishlist  at amzn.to/3EurYgr; hosting a corporate/employee drive and collecting new children’s toys, clothes and baby items ; donating at bit.ly/3VfVPQJ; or volunteering to pack gifts and help with the gift distribution (email schapman@f4ww.org).

“Share the Love”: Kearny Mesa Subaru and Meals on Wheels San Diego County host the annual “Share the Love” event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 7 at Kearny Mesa Subaru, 4797 Convoy St. This free event is open to the public and brings together some of San Diego’s best food truck eats, all in support of local nonprofits, including Meals on Wheels San Diego County. Enjoy festive holiday decorations and a special appearance from Brent Wakefield, president and CEO of Meals on Wheels San Diego County, as Santa Claus. Participating vendors will compete for the title of “Best Dish,” and local celebrity judges will vote on the winning food truck. At 12:15 p.m., the winning truck will be given a trophy of recognition. Also, for every new car purchased or leased through Jan. 3, Kearny Mesa Subaru will donate $250 to the owner’s charity of choice from four nationally selected agencies. Visit sandiegomealsonwheels.org.

National program helps military families: The Soldiers’ Angels Holiday Adopt-A-Family program is encouraging military and veteran families who could use some extra support this holiday season to sign up before the Dec. 6 deadline. The national nonprofit pairs families with businesses and individuals who want to help. Visit soldiersangels.org/adopt-a-family to learn more and start the application process. Families are adopted by Soldiers’ Angels sponsors who, at a minimum, will provide gifts for the children and a grocery gift card to help supply a holiday dinner. Eligible families include those who are: deployed service members who are an E1-E6, meet income requirements, and will be deployed through Dec. 25; honorably discharged post-911 wounded, ill or injured veterans; and HUD/VASH veteran families. Military or veteran families must be legal guardians to one or more children ages 18 and younger, living in the home and not yet graduated from high school.

SAN MARCOS

“Necessities Drive” for seniors: The nonprofit Gary and Mary West PACE holds its “Everyday Necessities Drive for North San Diego County Seniors” from Nov. 17 to Dec. 15 at 1706 Descanso Ave. Community members are asked to drop off new and unused warm blankets for seniors in need or make money donations from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Also, two holiday drop-off collections will take place from 7:30 to 10 a.m. and 3 to 5 p.m. on Giving Tuesday, Nov. 29, at the San Marcos Gary and Mary West PACE with sweet holiday treats to donors as a thank you. Visit westpace.org.

Please send items to laura.groch@sduniontribune.com or linda.mcintosh@sduniontribune.com.


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