Updated Dec. 21, 5:20 p.m.
The end of the year is a time when people who have the financial means often give to those who have less. December is one of the biggest months for charitable giving, according to the Blackbaud Institute.
Local charities say the COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed the demands for their services, as well as the way they fill their coffers. We reached out to local food banks, homeless support centers and other social support agencies to find out what’s new this year.
Andrew Nixon / CapRadio
Sacramento’s most well-known homeless support center says this year, it’s served 130,000 warm meals, given away 25,000 survival supplies and provided mental health care services through the 16 programs it runs on its campus near downtown Sacramento.
Erika Prasad, Development Director of Loaves and Fishes, says donations help purchase personal protective gear and things that keep homeless people alive, such as tents, tarps, and coats. Donations earlier this year helped the shelter provide a socially-distanced Thanksgiving dinner to 450 people.
Prasad said they’ve lost grant funding because foundations have either shifted giving towards health care providers, or have just not opened previously available grants. But, she said, individual contributors have stepped up to help fill in the gap.
Prasad said 88% of donations go towards direct services for the homeless.
Andrew Nixon / CapRadio
A couple dozen volunteers bike around Sacramento each morning to serve 30-40 homeless Sacramentans coffee, hot chocolate, water, nutritional bars and hygienic items. Many “pedalers” have been unable to participate during the pandemic, so the organization is looking for more volunteers so they can serve more people in need. They also would like in-kind donations such as masks, hand sanitizer, hats, gloves and other sanitation supplies.
Courtesy of the Sacramento Food Bank
Before the pandemic, the Sacramento Food Bank says it fed around 150,000 people per month. Now, it’s serving almost double that number. Every week, 2,500 families receive 40 pounds of food through two large touchless food drives, one at Arcade Church and another at Hiram Johnson High School.
Because of COVID-19, their programs that provide legal services to immigrants and resettlement for refugees are offered by phone or Zoom. Other services have been suspended to reduce risk during the pandemic.
Melanie Flood, director of development and communications for the food bank, says individual, corporate and foundational support has stepped up so they can purchase more food for the community.
“It has been very moving to watch people helping one another during this time,” said Flood.
But their operational costs have skyrocketed. Flood says every dollar donated provides five meals for a family, and 95% of donations go to programs and services. Volunteers are needed in the new year.
Officials with Yolo County’s food bank says it serves 60,000 needy people in their area, giving away 1 million pounds of food every month. Joy Cohan, director of philanthropic engagement says it is serving three times as many people as they were before the pandemic.
Cohan says the food bank has received donations large and small this year, including from “children who’ve saved their pennies to feed their friends.”
Ninety percent of donations go to direct services, and money is used to pay for trucks, drivers, refrigeration, storage, and delivery of food.
Large scale donations of food from farmers, grocers and distributors are welcome. Volunteers needed.
This service provides food for seniors and has a holiday meals campaign.
Courtesy of WEAVE
WEAVE provides a variety of services for victims of domestic violence and sex trafficking. Julie Bornhoeft, WEAVE’s chief strategy and sustainability officer, says the organization was forced to shift how they connect with survivors because of the pandemic. They added online chat services so that victims who are sheltering-in-place with their abuser have a more private and secure way to ask for help.
The number of support line calls reporting abuse has increased during the pandemic, she says. For safety reasons, WEAVE has had to decrease occupancy in their safehouse, but the need for shelter remains the same. They created an online platform for counseling, which has allowed them to serve more people than they did in 2019, but the technological upgrades have been costly.
Revenue is down from their thrift stores sales and canceled events, but donations from the community have helped “offset some of these losses,” Bornhoeft says.
Donations help pay for virtual services and residential facilities for victims. They’re looking for in-kind donations of cloth masks, unopened toiletries, cleaning supplies, and linens/towels. Thrift stores are accepting “gently used” clothing and household items.
WEAVE has a Winter Wonderland program where donors are matched with needy families.
WEAVE’s administrative costs run 16-18% every year, according to Bornhoeft.
Courtesy of La Familia
La Familia provides multilingual counseling and support services to low-income people in Sacramento. It chose to remain open during the pandemic because many of their families have language barriers and don’t have access to the internet.
Alexa Basurto, special projects assistant at La Familia, says their biggest need is for direct financial donations to help families ineligible for unemployment benefits pay for housing or lost wages.
La Familia has also provided more than 20,000 boxes of fresh produce to families, and since May has provided 200 lunches a day to children.
The organization is also actively working to stop the spread of COVID-19, by testing 5,000 people since May, and offering COVID-19 safety classes to 150 people.
La Familia has an “Adopt A Child” program, for which 540 children have been nominated, according to Basurto. Donations will help pay for gifts for them during the holidays.
Volunteers are needed to teach isolated seniors how to use digital devices, as well as to help english language-learning children with their homework.
Basurto says 95% of all La Familia funds are spent on direct program expenses.
Courtesy of Front Street Animal Shelter
The number of strays being brought to Front Street Animal Shelter has been cut in half during the pandemic, according to Ryan Hinderman, public information coordinator for the city of Sacramento’s animal shelter. They’re not sure why, he says.
“One explanation could be that owners are staying home with their animals and animals are spending more time inside, leading to fewer pets attempting to escape,” he wrote in a statement.
The shelter is closed to the public, but adoptions are being scheduled remotely. As a result, there are far fewer incidents of disease and behavioral problems among the animals.
Because adoptions have gone down, their revenue has dropped significantly, but it has been offset by an increase in donations. Donations will be used to pay for veterinary care, dental equipment and “enrichment toys” for the animals. The shelter is also offering to help owners who are struggling financially to pay for veterinary care for their animals.
The shelter is looking for foster homes for large dogs. People can text FOSTER to 47177 or go to frontstreetshelter.typeform.com/to/oXCPq9 to fill out a quick survey and get started!
Connects families in South Oak Park with food. So far, according to Ashley Powers Clark, with the project, they are providing food weekly to 40 families which consists of 220 individuals, including 129 children.
The group wants to serve an additional 30-40 families, so they’re trying to raise $40,000 to operate next year. Their donations have decreased “significantly” in the past two months, according to Clark, and they need more so they can purchase local produce and other grocery items.
“Families we serve are unable to get to the food banks due to lack to transportation or other barriers,” says Clark.
She adds that 93% of donations go to purchasing food, and 7% goes to their fiscal sponsor.
The ApoYolo Project is a partnership with the Yolo Interfaith Immigration Network to support Spanish-speaking immigrant communities in Yolo County during COVID-19. They help families pay for rent, food and emergency health care.
The committee that decides how to allocate funds includes ApoYolo volunteers, a representative from Yolo Interfaith Immigration Network, and representatives from the families they support, according to their Facebook page
As of mid-December, the project had sponsored 65 families in Davis and Winters. Currently they have a goal to raise $50,000 to support families affected by COVID-19 with essential needs. You can donate here.
The nonprofit group NorCal Resist provides direct cash assistance to asylum-seekers and undocumented community members in the Sacramento area. It says it has assisted over 1,025 families across Northern California with over $220,000 in emergency aid during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Direct cash aid provides families with the flexibility to use the funds wherever most needed,” their website reads.
The group provides updates about its efforts on their Facebook page, where you can read about and see pictures of — for example — groceries and Christmas presents being delivered to families in need.
They also operate a bail fund, hold events to help people repair their car brake lights and more.
Offers free new art supplies for Sacramento-area artists who have experienced financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The organization’s executive director, Claire Curley writes:
“Broad Room is a studio home to 18 artists and a resource center for nearly over 100 artists this year in need of supplies, tools, and other resources to ensure they can continue their art practice in the midst of a pandemic. Just this year, Broad Room has provided direct cash assistance to over 60 local artists and provided free supplies to over 50 artists. We were also able to forgive rent for 16 artists renting studio space during the pandemic for four months.”
Curley adds that “the donations we receive now will ensure that we can continue to purchase new art supplies, offer access to our equipment, and provide menstrual products at no cost to artists and makers who have been impacted by Covid-19 in 2021.”
People can donate to the Broad Room by texting ARTSUPPLY to 44-321.
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