With the heart of the holiday season upon us comes the biggest time of giving of the year.
Santa Cruz County has always been a place that supports local businesses, local nonprofits and local causes. With supply chains in upheaval and the need greater than ever due to the persistent pandemic wreaking havoc, there has never been a better time to give back to the local Santa Cruz County community.
“It’s that time of year again when our community members reach out to us looking for ways to connect and make their holiday celebrations more meaningful,” said Christina Thurston, director of volunteer connections at the Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County.
Each year, the Volunteer Center posts an online Holiday Volunteer Guide, available at www.scvolunteercenter.org.
“We regularly update the guide throughout the holiday season as new projects become available, so we encourage folks to check back regularly or give us a call if they can’t find what they are looking for and we are happy to match them with an opportunity,” said Thurston.
One long-running effort is the Volunteer Center’s Adopt a Family Project, started almost 40 years ago to help families struggling to make ends meet during the holidays. Each year, the project serves about 400 families.
Partner nonprofits provide a short bio about each family and a list of items each family member requests. Volunteers then set to work connecting these families with donors. Often, requests include necessities like sheets, towels and grocery store gift cards along with gift requests for children.
Many families are awaiting adoption but Thurston is confident that the community will come through.
Volunteers will be at the Adopt a Family Phone Line until Dec. 9.
Call Adopt a Family Hotline at 831-457-9834.
“For local families that are struggling, the holidays become a very worrisome time, especially now during Covid-19,” Thurston said. “It is truly heartbreaking to read through the family stories and to know that without this project these children might not have a warm jacket, let alone gifts or toys.”
Ways to support the project include adopting a whole family, buying individual items, volunteering in the warehouse to wrap and sort gifts, or donating funds. For information, visit scvolunteercenter.org/programs/adopt-a-family/
Many deserving projects and programs in Santa Cruz County need volunteers or financial support this holiday season.
Trea Robinson, director of community engagement at the Volunteer Center, recommends those wanting to make a meaningful donation visit www.santacruzgives.org.
“You’re guaranteed to find a cause you care about,” she said. “You can give to one or give to many — all with one transaction.”