Noe Valley Voice December-January 2004

Turkeys, Legos, and the Joy of Giving

By Valeria Vegas

Looking for an excuse to invest in Legos, cute baby clothes, or perhaps a few frozen turkeys? Got lots of dough? If so, you'll love the month of December. Here are at least seven excuses to buy huge amounts of goodies--and then give them all away.

Excuse #1: You Came Across a Green Bucket

This is likely to happen if you're anywhere near Alvarado Elementary School, located at 625 Douglass Street. Green buckets are stationed at the front entrance and on the second floor of the school, just waiting for your canned goods. When they're full, the contents will be passed on to the San Francisco Food Bank, which supplies food boxes to thousands of low-income families during the holidays.

Stop by the school before Dec. 14 with canned vegetables, canned fruit, tuna, canned meats, soups, stews, and chili, peanut butter, cereal, pasta, rice, and beans. Please, no glass containers! If you prefer, you can also make a monetary donation to the Food Bank at the school office. Note that Alvarado School Council co-organizer Heidi Dobrott says that "for every dollar they receive, the Food Bank can distribute nine dollars worth of food to the community."

Excuse #2: You Melt When You See a Baby

Natural Resources, Noe Valley's own childbirth information center, is collecting maternity and infant clothes, as well as monetary donations, to benefit the city's Homeless Prenatal Program. Now in its 15th year, the program helps homeless mothers and infants get off the streets. "It's an incredible program," says Natural Resources teacher Alex Tower.

Drop off new or used maternity and baby clothes at 816 Diamond Street (near 24th Street) by Dec. 18. Natural Resources' doors are open Tuesdays and Thursdays between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., Fridays from 1 to 6 p.m., and Saturdays between noon and 4 p.m.

Excuse #3: You Like to Keep Cats Out of Trouble

Holy Innocents Episcopal Church at 455 Fair Oaks Street between 25th and 26th streets is sponsoring a "turkey drop" in hopes you will donate frozen or fresh fowl for the Martin de Porres Hospitality House, a homeless shelter and soup kitchen, and Family Link, an organization that provides housing for visiting relatives of final-stage AIDS patients. The church will also take clothing--socks and other warm items--and, of course, cash donations.

"With all the cats in the neighborhood," suggests volunteer Davey Gerhard, "you might not want to leave a turkey on our doorstep." During daylight hours, though, someone is usually around to take a donation. To make sure the local alley cat doesn't eat your turkey, call 824-5142 to schedule a drop-off.

Excuse #4: You've Got to See This Giant Lego Menorah

If you're looking for a colorful way to contribute, the members of Chabad Jewish Center invite you to join their Lego Drive to cheer up hospitalized kids this Hanukkah. Chabad volunteers have already built a huge Lego menorah to display at Children's Hospital at UCSF. Now, they're collecting more Legos so that kids can build their own menorahs and trucks and little houses and things.

Donate Legos, which cost about $25 for a 100-piece bag, at 94 29th Street at San Jose Avenue, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. Other toys (and cash donations) are also welcome.

"It's important to remember those who need their spirits uplifted and those less fortunate than ourselves," says CJC rabbi Gedalia Potash. "It's these acts of goodness and kindness that make the world a better place." Call Chabad at 821-6932 for more information.

Excuse #5: You Don't Have Any Tots to Buy Toys For

Zephyr Real Estate is hosting its own toy drive, so the next time you run across another irresistible puppet at Small Frys or the Ark, go for it. The folks at Zephyr are requesting brand-new toys in their original packaging, which they will donate to the San Francisco Fire Department's Toys for Tots campaign.

"We do this every year," says Marcia Thomas, assistant manager at the branch, located at 4040 24th Street between Castro and Noe streets. "We have barrels in all of our offices." The firm also collects food for the San Francisco Food Bank, so you can drop off non-perishable food along with your toys.

Excuse #6: You're Looking for Redemption

The folks at Most Holy Redeemer Church, 100 Diamond Street near 18th Street, are offering you a terrific opportunity this year. Specifically, they need volunteer cooks and workers to help them feed and assist both homeless and near-homeless people. They also could use donations of deodorant, toothpaste, mouthwash, cologne (for men or women), bus passes, Neosporin, Band-Aids, watches, pre-paid calling cards, calendars, address books, nail care kits, knitted gloves, sewing kits, sunscreen, undershorts, long johns, light thermal undershirts, socks, socks, and more socks.

Donations can be dropped off at the rectory during regular business hours Monday through Friday. To volunteer or find out more about other Holy Redeemer programs, call 863-6259.

Excuse #7: Someone Needs That Coat More Than You Do

When you're doing your winter coat shopping this year, buy an extra one--and put it in a pile with all the old ones you never wear. Then give them to St. Paul's School, located at 1690 Church Street at 29th Street, which is participating in the One Warm Coat drive to benefit St. Anthony's Foundation. The school, along with the entire St. Paul's Parish, is also collecting toothbrushes and socks. For information, call 648-2055.

Count 'Em, Seven!

That's seven great excuses to snatch up frozen turkeys, toys, toiletries, and clothes everywhere you go, and then turn them all over to somebody else. In giving, you may find the best gift you can give yourself this season.