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Berkeleyan

Berkeleyan

Week of Caring serves Bay Area’s neediest

01 December 2004

Some Bay Area residents are more in need of holiday cheer than others. For them — and for Berkeley staff and faculty in search of the true spirit of giving — there’s the annual Food, Toy, and Gift Drive.

Part of the Week of Caring — Campus Charitable Campaign, the drive is sponsored jointly by the Berkeley Staff Assembly and the Black Staff and Faculty Organization. Last year the campus donated nearly 2,300 pounds of food, all of it distributed through the Alameda County Community Food Bank.

Donated gifts — slippers and socks, gloves, robes, blankets, and other useful items — go to seniors in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, while toys are passed out to children from the ages of 3 to 14.

A highlight of the drive, says BSFO officer Ethel Adams, is the annual holiday party for at-risk children, featuring lunch, a photo session with Santa, and a giveaway of toys and bags filled with nuts, fruit, and candy canes. Last year’s guests included kids from the Lincoln Child Center in Oakland, which provides mental-health services for kids ranging in age from 6 to 14, many of them with histories of neglect or abuse.

Pat Schroeder, of St. Mary’s Center, says last year’s drive yielded “a very generous donation” from Berkeley employees: two separate deliveries of gifts to scores of Oakland seniors, many of them homeless. “It just makes all the difference for our clients, and for us,” she said. “It meant a lot — and you can say that in big, emphatic letters.”

This year’s Week of Caring — Charitable Campaign runs from Dec. 1 through 8, but donations of gifts, new toys, and healthy, nonperishable food items will be collected in campus departments through Friday, Dec. 10. Further details are posted on the websites of the Berkeley Staff Assembly (bsa.berkeley.edu) and the Black Staff and Faculty Organization (bsfoucb.berkeley.edu).

In addition to food, toys, and gifts, the Charitable Campaign makes it easy for Berkeley staff and faculty to make a financial pledge to any of this year’s featured charities, to other nonprofit groups, or to campus departments and programs. Just log in at the campus business portal, blu.berkeley.edu, and click on the “Campus Charitable Campaign” link. If you’d prefer a printed pledge form, call Elisabeth Gordon, the campaign’s administrator, at 642-1574, or e-mail her at e_gordon@berkeley.edu.

And don’t forget: As part of the Week of Caring, all Berkeley staff and faculty are invited to take advantage of 20-percent discounts at the Cal Student Store through Friday, Dec. 3.