Tis the season for giving. Sure, it's easy to donate to a charity, but how do you choose which ones to give to? We've compiled a list of some of the most worthwhile nonprofits in the East Bay. Get your family and friends involved and watch how your efforts can impact the people around you. Go ahead, it's not too late to get on Santa's nice list.
East Bay Children's Book Project
Give the gift of learning and storytelling this holiday season by donating to the East Bay Children's Book Project. Through its partnership with local schools, daycare centers, hospitals, and other institutions that serve underprivileged children, the nonprofit organization has given out one million books since its inception in 2005. You can donate books by either dropping them off at the center or at any one of its designated locations throughout the Alameda County, or by requesting a collection bin to organize your own book drive. With an exception of religious books, textbooks, and library books, any kid-friendly books are fair game.
3612 Webster St., Oakland, 510-408-7323, EastBayChildrensBookProject.org
A Better Way
Originally founded as a foster family program, A Better Way has since grown to become much more than just that. Since opening its doors in 1996, the Berkeley-based organization has not only provided foster care placements for more than 2,000 children and finalized 300 adoptions, but it has also guided families and children through every step of the adoption process, offering services such as mental health care and training programs for foster parents. Every holiday season, A Better Way asks community members throughout the Bay Area to host toy drives to support the low-income families the nonprofit works with. Organize one at your workplace, school, or neighborhood to help kids truly feel at home this holiday season.
3200 Adeline St., Berkeley, 510-601-0203, ABetterWayInc.net
Berkeley Humane Society
Sometimes the most valuable gift is the one of companionship. Formerly known as the Animal Rescue Heaven, the Berkeley Humane Society has been helping animals find homes for more than eight decades. This holiday season, add a member to your household by adopting a pet. The staff will make sure you leave the shelter with a match made in heaven. If you're not yet ready for the commitment, consider becoming a volunteer. Just try not to take all of them home with you.
2700 Ninth St., Berkeley, 510-845-3633, BerkeleyHumane.org
Alameda County Community Food Bank
With the Alameda County Community Food Bank (ACCFB) serving one out of six Alameda County residents, perhaps the most far-reaching way to give back to your community is by participating in the nonprofit's annual Holiday Food & Fund Drive. There are several ways to get involved: You can drop off non-perishable foods (cereal, canned vegetables, pasta, etc.) into food drive barrels at participating local businesses. (If there aren't any barrels near your home, you can request one.) Or you can participate in the Virtual Food Drive, in which ACCFC will multiply your monetary donation four-fold. You'll keep your heart and your neighbors' stomachs full.
7900 Edgewater Dr., Oakland, 510-635-3663, ACCFB.org
HandsOn Bay Area
Still unsure of how to give back this holiday season? HandsOn Bay Area (HOBA) can match you up with one of more than two hundred Bay Area nonprofit organizations seeking volunteers. You can choose volunteer work according to your interests, and since each opportunity only requires a few hours of your time, you can spread your efforts across various organizations without making a long-term commitment. From preparing meals at the San Francisco Food Bank to gardening in West Oakland, the possibilities are numerous.