– Eric Sevareid, journalist
The holiday season is upon East County, and members of the community are opening their hearts to offer support to local charity drives offering aid to those in need. Local businesses, schools, churches and municipalities are collecting food, toys, blankets and coats to make sure everyone has a warm, happy holiday.
As it’s been doing for more than 45 years, the Brentwood Regional Community Chest (BRCC) is collecting non-perishable food items and toys to bring the joys of the holidays to 500 families. Barrels have been placed throughout the community, and all of the Brentwood schools have pledged to donate their collected goods toward the effort.
But collecting the goods is only half the job. The BRCC relies heavily on the helping hands of the community to sort and package the food boxes and toys for the pick-up event on Saturday, Dec. 17. Volunteers of all ages can help out at the sorting event on Friday, Dec. 16 starting at 6 p.m at Brentwood Elementary School, 200 Griffith Lane.
“Monetary donations, like for many organizations, are hard to come by, but we’re fortunate that people can help us with elbow grease instead of cash,” said BRCC board member Rick Lemyre. “We’re always anxious about whether we’ll have enough volunteers, so we invite the entire community to come out and help. Come one, come all.”
Volunteers are also needed to work the pick-up event. For more information about how you can help, visit www.brcchest.org or call 925-890-8296.
Just a town away in Oakley, residents are coming together for a similar charity event. The Friends of Oakley Community Foundation hosts its Christmas Basket Program on Sunday, Dec. 18.
“The continuing bad economy has taken its toll on all of us,” said Friends of Oakley President Kevin Romick. “For many families, the Christmas season has become an event to dread instead of anticipate. To alleviate these thoughts of despair and help those less fortunate, the Friends of Oakley will be collecting toys and non-perishable food items to prepare Christmas dinner baskets.”
As in Brentwood, local businesses and schools are rallying support by providing collection bins for food and toys, but the Friends take their effort a step further – wrapping gifts for children in need. The Friends will host gift-wrapping events on Tuesday, Nov. 29 and Thursdays, Dec. 1 and 8, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Almond Grove cafeteria, 500 Amaryllis St. Again, giving the gift of time can be as valuable as writing a check.
The Friends also need help sorting food prior to their event, and helping hands are always needed to load up donated goods to the families. The sorting event is held Saturday, Dec.17 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at O’Hara Park Middle School, 1100 O’Hara Ave. Volunteers are also needed for the distribution event on Sunday, Dec. 18. For more details, visit www.friendsofoakley.com.
Other community service projects throughout East County are in need of support. Freedom High School in Oakley is supporting the Friends of Oakley event – and hosting its own blanket drive. Antioch Kaiser Medical Center, 4501 Sand Creek Road, is collecting blankets as well as jackets, donating warmth to the Salvation Army. And to share the joy of the holidays with the troops overseas, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory at The Streets of Brentwood is hosting Fudge for Troops. During the month of November, for every pound of fudge sold, owner Christine McKnight will match it and donate a pound of fudge to the troops.
If you’re looking for more ways to help this holiday season or all year long, visit www.thepress.net/pages/links and scroll down to Service Clubs to contact service clubs in your area.